Turnovers lead to blowout loss for men’s basketball

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB — Early turnovers cost the men’s basketball team as NIU fell, 84-62, to the Eastern Michigan University Eagles in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The Eagles snapped out of their seven-game losing streak and the Huskies (15-14, 7-9 Mid-American Conference) dropped out of a tie with the University of Toledo for third place in the MAC West division.

The Huskies return to action 7 p.m. Tuesday to take on the Western Michigan University Broncos at the NIU Convocation Center for Senior Night at the Convocation Center.

Eastern Michigan University

The Eagles recorded 10 steals and scored 22 points off of 13 NIU turnovers, including eight turnovers in the first half. “We let Ray Lee and [Willie] Mangum catch-and-shoot early,” said Head Coach Mark Montgomery. “We couldn’t keep anyone in front of us … You can’t let those guys get their confidence  we did, and you see what kind of game they had. I thought we got off to a good start, but the turnovers and not defending was a recipe for getting beat.”

Freshman guard Eugene German had another impressive performance, leading the team with 23 points on 56 percent, 9-for-16, shooting from the field and 40 percent on 3-pointers.

Senior center Marin Maric racked up his tenth double-double this season, scoring 20 points on 88 percent (7-of-8) shooting from the field and grabbing 12 rebounds. Maric has four double-doubles in his past five games as he shot 75 percent from the free-throw line.

Sophomore wing Levi Bradley also finished in double-figures with 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.

The Huskies went 24-for-49 and the Eagles went 27-for-55 as they both shot 49 percent from the field, but NIU shot 67 percent from the free-throw line to the Eagles’ 75 percent.

Early foul trouble for NIU put the Eagles at the free-throw line for the remaining 16 minutes of the second half.

NIU battled its way back to trim its first half deficit to nine after early turnovers put them down by as many as 15 points.

German scored the last eight points of the first period for NIU and finished the half with 13 points.

NIU shot 56 percent in the first half to the Eagles’ 50 percent, but the Huskies committed eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes that the Eagles converted to 14 points.

The Huskies were unable to make the game close in the second half, resulting in an 82-64 loss.

Western Michigan University

The Broncos (12-15, 8-7 MAC) are second in the MAC West division behind MAC West leader Ball State University and are currently on a five-game winning streak.

The Huskies fell to the Broncos, 76-67, in their Feb. 11 meeting in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Five players scored in double-figures for the Broncos, including junior guard Thomas Wilder, the team’s leading scorer averaging over 19 points per game.

That Feb. 11 matchup was also the first of a stretch of impressive games from German. He scored, a career-high at the time, 20 points that he matched the following game against Ball State, and then surpassed when he scored a new career-high 27 points against University of Toledo on Feb. 18.

NIU trails the all-time series with Western Michigan, 32-58, but the Huskies lead the series 21-18 in DeKalb and have won the last three meetings at the Convocation Center.