Inconsistent play leads to men’s basketball loss


Senior forward Aaric Armstead looks for an open lane in Tuesday’s game against University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. The Huskies lost the game 65-45 despite a double-double from Armstead. 

By Tom Burton

BUFFALO, NEW YORK | Men’s basketball (14-10, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) and the University at Buffalo Bulls (13-11, 6-5 MAC) were tied at 25 going into halftime, but the Bulls outscored the Huskies 40-20 in the second half to win the game, 65-45.

The last time the Huskies scored less than 45 points in a game was March 11 against Eastern Michigan University and was Head Coach Mark Montgomery’s second season at NIU.

“I thought we started both halves slow, but we recovered in the first half to keep it tied,” Montgomery said. “The first five minutes in the second half, we had five turnovers in the first eight possessions, and that ignited them a little bit.”

The Huskies went cold from the field in the second half, shooting only 32 percent from the field, eight percent from behind the 3-point line and 44 percent from the free-throw line for the game.

“We settled for some shots but I’m going to credit the Buffalo defense,” Montgomery said. “They tightened the screws and made us uncomfortable for most of the game, and we didn’t have [the] poise to drive to the basket and make shots.”

The Huskies were led by senior forward Aaric Armstead, who recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, adding to a string of good performances in the past four games, averaging over 14 points, nearly seven rebounds and shooting 56 percent from the field.

“Aaric was the warrior for the team tonight,” Montgomery said. “He rebounded [and] defended well and tried to ignite us. We always need our seniors to step up, and we got that from [Armstead] tonight.”

The four other Huskie starters struggled to get anything going as the backcourt of freshman guard Justin Thomas and senior guard Dontel Highsmith went scoreless and shot 0-for-4 for the game.

Senior center Marin Maric was unable to get it going for the Huskies, as he recorded seven points and only five shots. Montgomery has said during the season on several occasions the success of the team begins with Maric and the team needs to get him the ball to be successful going forward.

The Huskies will look to forget about Tuesday’s loss and look toward Saturday’s game against the Western Michigan University Broncos (7-15, 3-7 MAC), who are having a difficult season and are near the bottom of the MAC.

Montgomery said he knows you can never overlook any team, especially after a loss. He said the team needs to play more cautiously on the road.

“We need to value the basketball on the road to give ourselves a chance to win, and we can’t get into early foul trouble,” Montgomery said. “We just have to defend without fouling and make some shots.”

The game against Western Michigan  will tip off 6 p.m. Saturday in Kalamazoo, Michigan.