Fans co-star in Huskies victory

By Roger Moreano

Just when the NIU men’s basketball team seemed to be running out of gas near the end of Tuesday night’s contest against DePaul, NIU’s sixth man, the fans, came to the rescue.

The delirious crowd of 6,261 screaming Huskies fans not only produced the electricity and excitement necessary to intimidate the invading Blue Demons during the 70-61 NIU victory; they may have been the deciding factor.

“Near the end (of the game) we were really tired, but our students and the rest of the fans wouldn’t let us lose,” NIU head coach Jim Molinari said. “It shows that we (NIU) know what school spirit is like and it’s a great atmosphere to be in.”

That atmosphere seemed to completely take DePaul out of the game in the first half as the Huskies raced out to a 39-28 halftime lead.

When the Blue Demons cut the NIU lead to 60-56 with 2:10 to play, the fans came to the front.

NIU outscored the Blue Demons 10-5 the rest of the way, while being fueled by the roaring Huskies crowd.

“It was a total school victory,” said Molinari. “The team, the students, the faculty, and the rest of the crowd were all a part of this win.

“Big victories like this one can bring unity to a whole school. Last night’s game was a reflection of the overall school community. I think we all represented NIU well.”

In addition to the crowd factor, NIU’s thorough domination in the rebounding department made up for the 25 turnovers the Huskies committed and held the Blue Demons to only four offensive rebounds for the entire game.

“We worked hard all week during practice and concentrated on rebounding,” said Molinari. “I believe you play (in a game) as you practice and we had a great week of practice.”

The victory over DePaul was the reward for the hard work as was some of the national credibility NIU received.

The Huskies will have little time to savor the victory over DePaul as Mid-Continent rival Wisconsin-Green Bay comes to Chick Evans Field House for a Saturday night match-up.