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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Amos, Lovings-Watts lead men’s basketball to first conference win

Huskies snap 10-game losing streak
Sean Reed
Freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts (1) gets in stance to guard Eastern Michigan University sophomore guard Orlando Lovejoy (55). Lovings-Watts scored 18 points and swiped 5 steals in NIU men’s basketball’s victory over the Eagles on Saturday. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The streak is finally over!

After 47 days of winless conference play and 10 straight losses, NIU men’s basketball (7-14, 1-8 MAC) has found the win column after a 76-66 victory over Eastern Michigan University (9-13, 2-8 MAC) on Saturday.

The Huskies were led by sophomore forward Xavier Amos in Saturday’s triumph over the Eagles. Amos finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds and a game-sealing layup with 51 seconds remaining in the second half.

NIU finished 30-for-35 from the charity stripe, highlighted by freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts’ 11-for-12 free-throw shooting clip.


Lovings-Watts played the unsung hero in Saturday’s victory, finishing with a stat line of 18 points, 7 rebounds and a game-high 5 steals.

The energy of Lovings-Watts was felt all throughout the Convocation Center, an energy that resonated especially with NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno.

“Will Lovings-Watts was really the guy that impacted this game with 5 steals,” Burno said. “He made some great plays. He made a timely three to put us back up seven. So I’m really happy for him.”

Lovings-Watts’ “timely three” came in the second half with 8:32 remaining to silence a short Eastern Michigan run. Following his long-range bucket, Lovings-Watts celebrated by taking a page out of New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson’s book.

Freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts celebrates a three-point shot in an NIU men’s basketball game against Eastern Michigan University on Saturday. Lovings-Watts played 27 minutes off the bench for the Huskies. (Sean Reed | Northern Star) (Sean Reed)
A tweet shows New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson celebrating a three-point shot. NIU freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts celebrated in similar fashion in Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan University. (Ethan Gonzales | Northern Star)

The Convo’s crowd erupted after witnessing their freshman guard express his personality on the court.

“It feels great,” Lovings-Watts said. “You know, I’m just trying to be the energy guy for this team. You know, the guy that comes in and just does the dirty stuff, the dirty work, stuff like that. So I just try to work hard and perfect it.”


The Amos-led Huskies recorded 10 assists as a team, a stat that NIU was forced to accumulate as a result of junior guard David Coit’s cold shooting day.

The 5-foot-11 guard scored just 9 points on 2-for-15 shooting and 1-for-9 from three point range. Junior guard Zarique Nutter, the Huskies’ second leading scorer in points per game, also had an inefficient scoring affair on Saturday with 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Despite the subpar scoring output from the junior guard duo, Nutter and Coit dished out 9 assists combined. The big man trio of junior forward Oluwasegun Durosinmi and sophomore forwards Yanic Konan Niederhauser and Ethan Butler assisted in scoring efforts with 17 combined points.

“I think players like Will coming off the bench and Duro (Durosinmi) coming off the bench and giving us big minutes, that really boosted everyone’s energy,” Amos said.

Burno highlighted the silver lining in Coit’s slow offensive day.

“Well I think Diggy (Coit) struggling will help us,” Burno said. “Because yet again, it gives confidence to other guys that they can do more and be a part.”


With the win, the Huskies are no longer the only team in the MAC without a win in conference play. NIU is now tied with the University at Buffalo with a conference record of 1-8.

“It feels great, but we need to keep stacking days,” Amos said. “Coach said we had two good practices that led to this. I feel like we were really locked in, brought a lot of energy and we just need to keep stacking days. This isn’t nothing.”

Burno expressed what it meant to finally win a game after over a month and a half of losing.

“When you lose, in today’s society, it can mess with your confidence on and off the court,” Burno said. “And so to see these guys celebrate a win like this, it really made me feel good because I know their confidence was shaken.”


NIU will face Miami University next at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Oxford, Ohio. The game will be streamed via ESPN+ and will be radio broadcasted via The Varsity Network.

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