NIU slips by single digits

Freshman guard Eugene German (middle) drives the ball to the paint Saturday against University at Illinois at Chicago as part of the NIU Thanksgiving Classic. The Huskies won this game 92-81.

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB | Men’s basketball lost the first two games of the NIU Thanksgiving Classic by a combined nine points with Friday’s game against Elon University going into double overtime before NIU was defeated 85-80.

Senior guard Aaric Armstead and freshman guard Eugene German both set career-highs in points in the tournament. Armstead had 24 points and German added 17. Armstead also set a career-high of 16 rebounds.

California Polytechnic State University

The Huskies fell, 68-64, to the Cal-Poly Mustangs Wednesday in the first matchup of the tournament.

NIU came storming out of the gates in the second half, going on a 15-5 run, to erase a 10-point halftime deficit.

Senior center Marin Maric, who was in foul trouble in the first half, scored eight of his team-high 14 points during the run.

NIU shot 61 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 26 percent in the first half. The Huskies took a six-point lead on a triple by sophomore guard Austin Pauga, but the Mustangs answered quickly with six of their own to tie the game, 51-51, with seven minutes to go.

With about a minute left in regulation, junior guard Josh Mishler hit a triple to give the Mustangs a 64-60 lead. Maric answered with a layup, but NIU turned the ball over on its next possession and Cal-Poly closed out the game.

Elon University

Armstead scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds, but the Huskies fell, 85-80, in double-overtime to the Elon University Phoenix Friday.

The Phoenix drained 14 three pointers, including 11 in the second half and overtime. Maric (23) and sophomore forward Jaylen Key (15) also scored in double figures for the Huskies.

Armstead tied the game, 62-62, with 17 seconds remaining in regulation to force the first overtime.

Sophomore guard Laytwan Porter hit a triple, but Elon answered with a three of its own to take a 70-68 lead with about a minute to play in the first overtime.

Armstead tied the game, 70-70, on a pair of free throws with 24 seconds remaining. The Huskies stopped the Phoenix on the following possession to force a second overtime.

Elon had an 81-74 lead with 50 seconds left in the second overtime. With 32 seconds remaining, Elon’s lead was cut to 83-78, but the Phoenix still held on for the victory.

University of Illinois at Chicago

German scored a career-high 17 points, and the Huskies defeated the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames, 92-81, Saturday in the final game of the tournament. 

Three other Huskies scored in double figures including Armstead (21), Maric (16) and Key (12). NIU shot 50 percent from the three-point line and 55 percent for the game.

 “It was a game that we needed,” said Head Coach Mark Montgomery . “After losing three straight [games] by a combined 11 points, we just needed to find a way to win the game. I thought our energy was great, our effort was great, and we finally finished. It was a hard game to officiate, 50 foul calls —no one could get in a rhythm. I thought our inside play was strong. German gave us an unbelievable lift off the bench.”

With 11 minutes to play in the first half, the Huskies led 20-13 and seven players had already scored. NIU led at halftime, 42-38, as Pauga hit a jumper in the lane at the buzzer. The Huskies went on a 6-0 run with 13 minutes left in regulation to push their lead to 61-53. NIU led by 12 with one minute left and held off the Flames for the victory.

NIU plays 7 p.m. Wednesday against Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. The game will stream on ESPN3.