Minnesota routs men’s basketball team

By Carl Ackerman

Solid defense was needed for the NIU men’s basketball team to topple Minnesota in Saturday night’s road battle.

That potent NIU defense came through, but what Huskies’ head coach Jim Molinari wasn’t expecting was a dismal offensive performance by his team that would result in 27 percent shooting.

As a result, the Golden Gophers (3-0) rose to the occasion with a convincing 65-37 victory over the Huskies (1-1) in front of 15,334 fans.

Although NIU was down by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Huskies cut the UM lead to 27-21 when they rattled off nine of the last 11 points in the half.

NIU pulled within five points with 13:50 left to play, but UM nailed 11 unanswered points and gained momentum for the rest of the game.

Up until that point the Huskies had played a solid defensive game, and had kept the Golden Gophers frustrated with a high-powered man-to-man defense.

“We fought hard and played great defense, but we’ve got to be able to score to win,” Molinari said. “We need to get better play from our seniors.”

Molinari feels a key problem was the amount of turnovers the Huskies made. NIU made 23 turnovers in the game, 14 of them in the first half.

“We just can’t allow those turnovers. We’ve been turning it over way too much lately. We can’t have turnovers from our seniors because that really hurts us,” Molinari said.

Seniors Donnell Thomas and Donald Whiteside had five turnovers each.

“Donnell didn’t have one of his better games. He tried to force things and rush things,” Molinari said.

The Huskies were out-rebounded 42-28, a major reason for the low scoring. The Huskies made just four field goals in 22 attempts during the second half, and were seven for 19 in the first half. The Huskies haven’t been held to this few points since 1946 when NIU defeated Northern Iowa 37-35.

“I’m not going to dwell on this (loss) at all,” Molinari said. “It’s hard to play (at Minnesota) because you don’t get any breaks or any calls. But the fact of the matter is we have to get going offensively.”

Andrew Wells led NIU in scoring with 12 points and rebounding with nine. Thomas was the only other Huskie to hit double figures in scoring with 11 points.

The Golden Gophers’ Kevin Lynch tied teammate Randy Carter with 14 points. UM’s Bob Martin led his team in rebounds with ten. The NIU defense held UM to just a 42 percent shooting percentage in the game.