Huskies’ season ends at the buzzer

By Julian Nunnery

The men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Kent State Golden Flashes Monday in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

The Huskies (13-19, 6-13 MAC) fell 61-59 on the road on a buzzer-beater layup.

The game started off even keeled as the teams traded leads in the early minutes. Towards the end of the first half, the Golden Flashes went on an 8-0 run to take a 29-19 lead.

NIU responded by chipping away at the lead and trailed 31-25 at the break.

“In the last minute, we answered back,” said Head Coach Mark Montgomery. “We made two threes and got a couple of stops. We were only down six at half, so we didn’t feel so bad going into the second half.”

Kent State attempted to pull away at the beginning of the second half, pushing their lead back up to nine points with 18 minutes left to play.

The Huskies refused to give in, however, and maintained striking distance. NIU used a 10-0 run of its own to take a 48-42 advantage with just over nine minutes left in the game.

Kent State responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to knot the game up at 48 with seven minutes left. From that point forward, the teams traded leads seven more times before sophomore guard Eugene German got fouled on a layup attempt with his team trailing 59-58 with seven seconds left.

German knocked down the first free throw to tie the game at 59 but could not get his second attempt to fall. Kent State corralled the rebound and elected not to call a timeout.

The Golden Flashes pushed the ball the length of the court and made a last second layup attempt to knock the Huskies out of the MAC tournament.

Junior Forward Levi Bradley played well in the second half after shooting 0-for-3 on field goals and going scoreless in the first half. Bradley finished with a team-high 18 points and six rebounds as he tried to will the Huskies to a first-round win.

“Bradley really got it going in the second half,” Montgomery said. “His teammates were finding him, and he got it going inside and outside.”

German was the only other Huskie to score double digits, finishing with 12 points and a pair of assists.

Sophomore guard Justin Thomas had a monster night on the boards, pulling down a team-high eight rebounds.

Montgomery said he is proud of his team’s effort this season and knows they’ll have a lot to look forward to heading into next season.

“We had some great moments this season,” Montgomery said. “I can’t be more proud of this team [and] how they fought all the way till the end. We will be much improved after we get back in the factory this spring and summer. We have our top three scorers in German, Bradley and Thorpe all coming back, which means a lot of promise for next year.”