Huskies falter in second half during loss against Aggies

Senior+guard+Eugene+German+gets+up+and+under+defenders+Nov.+25+during+NIU%E2%80%99s+home+win+against+Oakland+University+at+the+Convocation+Center.

Senior guard Eugene German gets up and under defenders Nov. 25 during NIU’s home win against Oakland University at the Convocation Center.

Mike Knapp

DeKALB — For the second game in a row, the men’s basketball team fell into an early-game hole and had to play from behind the entire game.

After trailing 19-5 Thursday night in the first half against Saint Mary’s College – California, the Huskies again fell behind by 14 points Saturday against University of California – Davis.

While NIU was able to battle back against the Aggies by halftime, it suffered its second consecutive loss as the Aggies held on for a 66-57 win.

After winning six games in a row, the two losses on its California trip dropped NIU’s record to 6-4, while the Aggies improved to 4-7.

“We got to halftime, and we were only down two points, even though UC – Davis really outplayed us in the first half,” Head Coach Mark Montgomery said in a news release. “We showed some ability to bounce back, but we never reestablished ourselves on the inside. We were playing good defense, but we had some costly turnovers and just couldn’t get over the hump.”

The Aggies got off to a quick start, scoring the first six points of the game and seeing their lead reach its high-water mark at 26-12. Sophomore guard Caleb Fuller converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 9:37 left before the break.

The Huskies finished the half on a 22-10 run and trailed by two at the break, 36-34, when senior guard Eugene German nailed a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the half.

The Aggies stretched the lead as high as 10 points in the second half, but the Huskies battled back and made it a two-point game twice in the closing minutes. The last time came on a jumper by junior guard Zaire Mateen that made the score 57-55 with 1:44 left in the game.

After that, UC – Davis won the game from the free throw line, making seven of their nine shots from the charity stripe to close out the game on a 9-2 run.

German led the Huskies in scoring with 16 points as they struggled offensively, shooting 35% overall for the game and going just 6-for-27 from behind the 3-point arc.

German now has 203 points on the season, which gives him 1,772 career points, making him fourth on NIU’s all-time scoring list. German is now just 224 points away from T.J. Lux’s school record of 1,996.

Redshirt senior forward Lacey James also found his way into double digits with 10 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

Sophomore guard Darius Beane added eight points for the Huskies.

Redshirt senior guard Joe Mooney scored a game-high 17 points for the Aggies.

The Huskies return home and have a week off for finals, then travel to the University of Pittsburgh.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.

The Panthers are 7-3 this season with a 4-2 record at home. Pitt is coming off a 64-46 loss Dec. 6 against No. 1 University of Louisville.

The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.