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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Shorthanded Huskies run out of gas against Ball State

Tim Dodge
Junior guard David Coit surveys the court with Ball State junior guard Jaylin Anderson guarding him in an NIU men’s basketball game on Tuesday. Coit scored a game-high 28 points Tuesday. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

DeKALB – A depleted NIU men’s basketball team (9-17, 3-10 MAC) was outlasted by the Ball State University Cardinals (13-13, 5-8 MAC) 70-63 Tuesday. The Huskies felt the absence of starters sophomore forward Xavier Amos and junior guard Zarique Nutter from the lineup, as NIU was unable to hold on to its second half lead.


“I thought we ran out of gas down the stretch,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “When you have limited bodies, especially at the guard position, not having Nutter’s size and the ability to throw the ball inside. Obviously losing Xavier (Amos), not having him out there was a huge factor.”

After defeating NIU on Jan. 27 in Muncie, Indiana, the Cardinals completed the season sweep of the Huskies Tuesday. Ball State was led by an all-around performance from junior guard Jalin Anderson. Anderson led the Cardinals in scoring with 19 points while dishing out 7 assists and pulling down 8 rebounds. 

With the Huskies missing their second leading scorer (Nutter) and their third leading scorer (Amos), the bulk of the scoring responsibilities fell on the shoulders of junior guard David Coit. 

Coit scored a game-high 28 points, but sophomore forward Yanic Konan Niederhauser was the only other Huskie to score in double figures. 

“I think now we’re playing harder,” Coit said. “Now it’s just execution on both ends of the floor. Getting stops, coming up with the rebounds and then just stepping up. Knowing that we got guys down and knowing that me and him (freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts) especially, we’re going to play 40 minutes so me and him have to do better.”


After outscoring their opponents in the second half in 3 of their last 4 conference games, the Huskies’ second half struggles from earlier in the season returned as NIU was outscored by 11 points in the final 20 minutes. 

NIU held a 3-point lead at halftime and its largest lead of the game at 51-42 with just under 9 minutes left in the second half, but went ice cold the rest of the way, connecting on just three field goals over the final 8 minutes.

“You have to execute,” Burno said. “These guys have been in these scenarios before where you have to make free throws, free throws are free. You have to sit down, concentrate and make free throws. We’ve lost three games due to the foul line or because of situations where we haven’t converted. Whether it was Monmouth, whether it was Western Michigan and now today.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Zion Russell and Lovings-Watts combined to miss four free throws in the final two minutes, allowing Ball State to put the game away.

NIU held Ball State junior forward Basheer Jihad, the MAC’s third leading scorer, to just 4 points on 0-for-13 shooting in the first half. Foul trouble from Niederhauser and senior forward Harvin Ibarguen in the second half allowed Jihad to find his groove, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. 

“I think as a team we have to stop fouling,” Coit said. “We put them on the line a lot. They were 21 of 27 so they were knocking them down. But besides fouling, I thought our bigs were very solid on him (Jihad).”


Sitting three games behind Western Michigan University for the last spot in the MAC Tournament with five games left, the Huskies cannot afford any more losses in order to make it to Cleveland.

The Huskies’ next opportunity will be against Ohio University at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and live stats will be available via SIDEARM Stats.

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