Men’s basketball loses lead in game against Eastern Michigan


Coach Mark Montgomery expresses frustration from the bench on Feb. 22.

By Christopher Loggins

Men’s basketball was unable to hold onto a second-half lead against Eastern Michigan University (16-14) on Tuesday, dropping to 19-11 on the season and 3-10 on the road.

Both teams shot more than 50 percent in the first half, combining to go 27-47 from the field, 21-32 from the free throw line and 9-16 from three. The Huskies and Eagles both struggled to take care of the ball, tallying 12 turnovers each. NIU led 45-39 at the half.

Despite holding a lead as high as 15 points, the Huskies weren’t able to put the Eagles away late in the game, allowing Eastern Michigan to come back and take over the game. The Eagles outscored the Huskies 36-26 in the second half, forcing the Huskies into 34 percent shooting for the period. Eastern Michigan also got to the free throw line 16 times, connecting on 13 of them for a huge advantage.

NIU wasn’t able to shake its struggles, eventually falling 75-71. It marked another disappointing road loss in an otherwise successful season. Despite a 19-11 record, the Huskies are 8-9 in the MAC and have lost eight road games in a row, which could be a concern for the team heading into the tournament.

“It just seemed like after we got the 15-point lead we tightened up,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery, according to an NIU Athletics news release. “Our first-shot defense was good, but we couldn’t seem to get the rebound. When the lead started shrinking, we couldn’t get a basket.

“Credit Eastern Michigan, they kept playing. You have to keep defending and rebounding, it is a shame because when you look at the stats it seemed like we outplayed them. Our turnovers hurt us and we didn’t make a three in the second half, they only made one, but it was the game-winning shot.”

A bright spot for the Huskies was freshman guard Marshawn Wilson, who scored a career-high 26 points in the game on 9-12 shooting. He also hit five threes and picked up six rebounds.