Panthers sneak past Huskies

By Julian Nunnery

NIU was unable to keep the momentum going from its 52-point victory against Rockford University, losing to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers 75-62 Wednesday.

The Panthers stayed a few steps ahead of the Huskies as they maintained a five-to-seven point lead for nearly the entire game. NIU had a tough shooting night as the team shot 41 percent on field goals and only 28 percent on 3-pointers.

Head Coach Mark Montgomery felt his team showed a lot of fight, but still tipped his hat to Milwaukee for their strong performance.

“[It was a] hard fought game,” Montgomery said. “You have to give Milwaukee a lot of credit. We just weren’t tough enough on the defensive end. It’s hard to win games when you’re playing from behind.”

The Panthers shot 57 percent for the game and grabbed 14 more rebounds. Milwaukee also tallied 19 second chance points.

“We have to play better on defense,” junior guard Dante Thorpe said. “We gave up 19 second chance points. It’s not about our offense [playing bad], it’s about our defense.”

NIU was led by sophomore guard Eugene German, who had 22 points, six rebounds and shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. German had a slow start to the second half after scoring 16 in the first, but with his team down 57-52 with six minutes left to play, he picked up his aggressiveness in a comeback effort.

“To start off the second half, some of my shots weren’t falling,” German said. “Then as I saw the game was getting out of hand; I tried to be more aggressive.”

Milwaukee weathered the storm however, closing out the game on an 8-0 run.

Thorpe and junior forward Levi Bradley had strong second half performances and finished with solid numbers. Thorpe scored eight of his 11 points in the second half and added three assists and one rebound, while Bradley scored six of his 10 points in the second half to go with six rebounds.

Montgomery alluded to to the schedule being tough this time of year, but said the team needs to fight through the adversity.

The Huskies will move on to play in two road games, beginning with a game Saturday against Chicago State, followed by a short turnaround to face Iowa State from the Big-12 Conference.

“We have two days to get ready for Chicago State [and] we have one day to get ready for Iowa State,” Montgomery said. “When you have a young team, you need more practice time. We’re going to stay the course.”

NIU will look to bounce back when it hits the road to face Chicago State 2 p.m. Saturday in Chicago.