Huskies see late comeback attempt shot down as UNI down NIU in season opener

Mike Knapp

DeKALB — The Huskies’ pre-conference schedule looked to be one that posed several challenges. That reality came true Saturday during the team’s first match up. 

During the opening of the 2019-20 men’s basketball season against the University of Northern Iowa at the Convocation Center, the Huskies found themselves down 20 points in the second half. At one point, the team cut the lead to five points late in the game. 

Northern Iowa held on for a 64-54 win.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Head Coach Mark Montgomery said. “It wasn’t the result we wanted, but I thought the team showed a lot of character. We had our chance, but I thought we just ran out of gas.”

For much of the first half, the game was a back-and-forth affair, but the Huskies only scored four points over the last six minutes of the half. 

That allowed the Panthers, now 2-0 on the season, to finish the first 20 minutes on a 14-4 run and take a 40-24 advantage into the break.

Their lead hit 20 points, 48-28, after junior guard Trae Berhow nailed a three-point shot with 16:43 to go in the game, but the Huskies started battling back. 

NIU responded with a 19-2 run of its own that cut the lead to five points when sophomore guard Trendon Hankerson put in a layup with 6:53 to play and made the score 52-47.

“We came to the huddle [during a timeout] and decided to lock them down on defense,” Hankerson said. “We wanted to lock them down every time down the floor and play them one possession at a time.”

That was as close as the Huskies were able to get; senior guard Isaiah Brown, who paced the Panthers with 17 points, hit two triples just over a minute apart to push the lead back into double digits. Brown made five of his six shots from behind the arc for the game.

“Things got slowed down for us in the second half on offense, but to their credit, they came out and guarded us hard,” UNI Head Coach Ben Jacobson said.

Senior guard Eugene German paced the Huskies with a game-high 21 points, while Hankerson added nine points. Redshirt senior forward Lacey James had four points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Huskies next travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State University.

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at James H. Hilton Coliseum.

The Iowa State Cyclones are 1-1 this early season after losing Saturday to Oregon State University.