Men’s team leaves defense in DeKalb

By Jim Wozniak

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa—When it comes time for the NIU men’s basketball team to play AMCU-8 conference members lately, defense takes a back seat.

Just like the earlier loss to Western Illinois, the Huskies defense took a night off. This time Northern Iowa was the beneficiary, as the Panthers defeated the Huskies 99-79 in front of 3,103 at the UNI-Dome. NIU’s record dropped to 7-13 while Northern Iowa’s jumped to 7-10.

The Huskies have yet to win on the road this year except for a victory over Southeastern Louisiana on a neutral court Dec. 6 in the Shocker Shootout at Wichita State.

“We made them look like national champions,” said NIU Coach Jim Rosborough. “It was our worst game of the year. They wanted it more.”

“We’ve been coming by inches and we really needed to have a game like this—no question about it,” said Panther Coach Eldon Miller.

NIU dug itelf into a hole early in the first half, falling behind 17-6 in the first five minutes. Northern Iowa guard Maurice Newby sizzled from the perimeter, while the Huskies’ shooting was still in the refrigerator.

The first 10 minutes were fast-paced, with the Huskies also being weak on the boards. Both teams concentrated on shooting from the outside against their opponent’s zone. NIU guard Rodney Davis was the main man for NIU, often penetrating the lane before hitting a short jumper.

The Huskies became more aggressive in the second 10 minutes of the half. Northern Iowa’s shooting slowed down, as NIU eventually reduced the Panthers’ half-time lead to 43-40. NIU also opened up its fast break late in the half after forcing some Panther turnovers.

Davis paced the Huskies with 10 points in the first half with Norman right behind with nine. Newby led all scorers with 16 points, almost entirely from the perimeter. Greg McDermott, a junior forward, added 12 for Northern Iowa.

The second half began in the same fashion as the first. The Panthers pushed the lead to 10 in the first four minutes before NIU made a charge. But whenever the Huskies brought the lead down, Northern Iowa pushed it back up by forcing Huskie turnovers and then taking the ball to the hoop.

Newby continued to hit from the outside, while Panther center Jason Reese recovered from a slow first half. Newby finished the game with a career-high 31 points. Reese chipped in 23.

“He (Newby) had it going,” Miller said. “We really wanted to look inside a little more. I think looking inside to him meant looking at the basket.”

NIU had five players in double figures compared to four for Northern Iowa. Davis led NIU with 19 points, followed by Norman and center Mike Grabner with 16 apiece. Eric Harrington and John Culbertson tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Most Huskie players were unable to explain what had happened to them.

“We just fell apart as a team,” said Davis. “We just weren’t in the game mentally. We had to continue playing well but we didn’t do that tonight.”

“Defensively we didn’t play well. Offensively we didn’t play well,” said NIU forward Matt Hardy. “We just didn’t come mentally prepared to play.”

Eldon Miller said he was particularly impressed with his team’s second-half performance.

“The second 20 minutes was the best basketball we have played this year,” he said. “We had a good balance of inside offense and outside offense. And our defense was better. We had 21 assists and only eight turnovers.”

NIU had 16 assists and 13 turnovers.