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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

3 Huskies post season highs in season finale victory

Paul Hokanson
Junior guard David Coit scans the court while Buffalo freshman guard Bryson Wilson guards him on Friday. Coit scored a career-high 37 points en route to a 78-68 victory over the Bulls. (Paul Hokanson | Courtesy of UB Athletics)

Junior guard David Coit exploded for a career-high 37 points as NIU men’s basketball (11-20, 5-13 MAC) ended an otherwise lackluster season on a high note, taking down the University at Buffalo Bulls (4-27, 2-16 MAC) 78-68 Friday. 

“He’s (Coit) had to carry us down the stretch, especially with all those main guys out,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “He had to rebound, he didn’t have a great performance against Central (Michigan). That really bothered him emotionally because he wanted to really perform well and he didn’t. So I knew he was going to come back with a vengeance.”

Coit’s 37-point outing was the most by any MAC player in 2023-24. In addition to Coit, redshirt sophomore guard Zion Russell and senior forward Harvin Ibarguen each recorded season highs in points. 

Russell scored 14 points and knocked down 2 of his 5 triples en route to the best game of his career. Russell also stuffed the stat sheet, dishing out six assists, grabbing three rebounds and swiping three steals. 

Ibarguen notched his first double digit scoring game of the season, scoring 12 points on a hyper-efficient 6-for-7 shooting night. The Cali, Columbia native also grabbed 11 rebounds to secure his first career double-double.

“I told you (sophomore forward) Ethan Butler would have to step up, Harvin would have to step up, (sophomore forward) Yanic (Konan Niederhauser) and those guys did it,” Burno said. “Zion made four free throws, hit a big one on the front end of a one-and-one. I’m happy for these guys.”

Despite two Huskies having career scoring nights, just five Huskies found the scoring column. NIU leaned heavily on their starting five as the Huskies recorded zero bench points.


Both teams came out firing from long range in the first half, combining for 14 made triples. The Bulls converted on 8 of their 16 three-point attempts in the first half and the Huskies went 6-for-17 from beyond the arc..

Behind a 17-point first half from Buffalo freshman guard Ryan Sabol, the Huskies found themselves in a 10 point hole with 6:41 remaining in the first half. Sabol drained 6 of his 8 three-point attempts and finished the game with 22 points, setting a career-high. 

Coit matched Sabol through the first 20 minutes, scoring 17 points of his own in the first half. Coit nailed 4 of the Huskies’ 6 first-half threes. 

After falling behind 32-22 with just under 7 minutes remaining in the first half, the Huskies went on a 16-5 run to take a 38-37 lead into halftime. Coit scored 11 of the Huskies’ final 16 points of the first half.


Coming out of the break with a one point lead, the Huskies were in cruise control in the second half. NIU never relinquished the lead over the final 20 minutes, leading by as many as 16 points.

The Huskies dominated the glass, out-rebounding Buffalo 25-11 in the second half. NIU grabbed 7 offensive rebounds and outscored Buffalo 18-8 in second chance points. 

A layup by Buffalo senior forward Jonnivius Smith, with just over 3 minutes to play, cut the Huskies lead to 66-61. This was as close as the Bulls would get as the Huskies knocked down 11 of their 13 second-half free throw attempts to seal the win. 

“You know, we got some work to do, but I’m happy for these guys,” Burno said. “To get on the road and win says a lot about the character of the team and the guys that played in the game.”


After finishing the 2022-23 season with a 13-19 overall record and a 9-9 MAC record, the Huskies took a major stepback in 2023-24. NIU finished its season 11th place in the MAC, just one season after finishing 7th place and reaching the MAC Tournament. 

“Don’t give up on us,” Burno said. “We had expectations. I thought, to be quite honest, this program took a step back. I thought we’d be better in year three than we were. But unfortunately with injuries and things of that nature, we’re going to still battle and build this program the right way. We were competitive but we didn’t do what we needed to do to win games. We have to be better next year.”

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