Huskies lose big on road


Huskies lose big on road

By Khobi Price

DeKALB — The men’s basketball team concluded its two-game road trip with a 82-67 blowout loss to the University of Akron Zips Saturday in Akron, Ohio.

The loss by the Huskies (9-10, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) marks their fourth MAC game defeat in their last five tries. They currently are tied for fourth in the MAC West division.

NIU fell victim to Akron’s prolific 3-point shooting and allowed the Zips to shoot 15-of-31 from beyond the arc. It was the most 3-pointers the Huskies have allowed this season.

“They drove the ball and kicked it to open guys and made open threes,” said Head Coach Mark Montgomery. “We have to do a better job of defending one-on-one, keeping guys in front, recovering back and running guys off the 3-point line.”

The Huskies took an early 11-8 lead before Akron hit three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to take an eight-point advantage with 9:28 left in the first half. The Zips made nine 3-pointers, and NIU committed 10 turnovers in the opening half.

“We didn’t play good enough to win on the road,” Montgomery said. “Way too many first-half turnovers. We didn’t follow the scouting report, didn’t play hard enough and smart enough. Akron made those first couple threes and kept it going.”

NIU opened the second half with an 11-5 run, which brought the deficit down to seven points. Akron retaliated with five 3-pointers and a pair of layups to increase their lead to a game-high 23 points.

The Zips maintained a lead of at least 13 points the rest of the way to secure their second conference win of the season.

The Huskies shot 39.6 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. They turned the ball over five times in the second half and made 25 free throws in the game.

Freshman forward Gairges Daow tallied career-highs with 14 points, five made field goals and two made 3-pointers. Junior guard Dante Thorpe and sophomore guard Eugene German each scored 16 points.

NIU will return to action 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Convocation Center against the Bowling Green State University Falcons.

“Of course, it’s a payback game,” Montgomery said. “They beat us down there, and we have the opportunity to save face. We have to play harder, compete for 48 minutes and bring an enormous amount of energy and effort.”