Men’s basketball stifles in home matchup

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB |Men’s basketball (12-7, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) fell to the Ohio University Bobcats (12-5, 4-2 MAC), 78-69, Saturday at the Convocation Center.

Ohio trails Akron University (16-3, 6-0 MAC), winners of nine consecutive game, in the MAC East. NIU is tied with Eastern Michigan University (12-7, 4-2 MAC) atop the MAC West with two-thirds of the season still remaining.

The Huskies have their second meeting of the season with the Kent State University Golden Flashes 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Convocation Center.


Senior center Marin Maric scored a team-high 16 points, but the Bobcats’ shooting was too much for the Huskies to overcome.

With three minutes left in regulation, the Huskies deficit was five, but the Bobcats hit difficult shots late in the game to come away with the victory.

NIU shot 44 percent (27-for-61) for the game but only hit 52 percent (11-for-21) of its free throws. Ohio shot 49.2 (30-for-61) percent for the game and 40 percent (10-for-25) from the 3-point-line.

Sophomore forward Jaylen Key, freshman guard Eugene German and sophomore wing Levi Bradley also scored in double-figures for the Huskies, who had 11, 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Head Coach Mark Montgomery said he liked how the team bounced back after getting out to an early deficit, but ultimately were unable to complete the comeback.

“Three minutes to go, it’s a two-point game [but] we didn’t get the defensive rebound,” Montgomery said. “They get a score and we just didn’t close the game, and it’s disappointing, but credit Ohio. They made tough shots when they had to make tough shots, and we have to be better at making free throws. Missed free throws, that really hurt us when you go 50 percent at home.”

The difference in the first half came on three-pointers. The Bobcats shot 50 percent (5-10) from behind the arc in the first half compared to the Huskies’ 20 percent (1-5).

Sophomore guard Laytwan Porter quickly gave the Huskies a 10-6 lead and was immediately followed by a German three-point play to give NIU a 13-10 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Bobcats took a 23-21 lead on a floater in the lane. Head Coach Mark Montgomery called timeout after the Bobcats extended their lead to 29-23 on a three-pointer. The Bobcats led 39-32 at halftime.

Highsmith started the second half with a move to the rim to trim the Bobcats’ lead to 42-35.

Bradley cut the lead to one, 49-48, on a jumper with 11 minutes left in regulation.

With two minutes left to play, the Bobcats extended their lead to 71-64 and would hold on for the victory.

Kent State

NIU defeated Kent State 74-70 in the team’s Jan. 10 game played in Kent, Ohio. The Huskies trailed by as many as 13 in the second half, but shot 47 percent (16-for-34) in the final 20 minutes to overcome the deficit.Five of the last six contests between these teams has been decided by four points or less, with four of those games being decided by two points or less. The Golden Flashes defeated Toledo University 85-61 Saturday to end its four-game losing streak.

In those four losses, the team shot nearly 45 percent while their opponents shot a combined average of 48 percent.

Though NIU averages 71.4 points per game in conference play, it only gives up 66.4 points. Kent State is the opposite, averaging 78.8 points per game while giving up 84.6 points per game in MAC play this season.

An area the Huskies should succeed in is points-off-turnovers. In the last meeting between the teams, NIU scored 27 points off of 23 Golden Flashes’ turnovers.

In the past four games for Kent State, the Golden Flashes have turned the ball over an average of 19 times, while their opponents combined for an average of 14 turnovers.

As one of the top defensive teams in the MAC and conference leader in steals, the Huskies should be able to get Kent State to turn the ball over and capitalize on the Golden Flashes mistakes.