Home streak over for men’s basketball

By Christopher Loggins

Men’s basketball (16-6, 5-4 MAC) lost its first home game of the season and its third game in a row overall, falling to Buffalo University 90-78 on Tuesday.

The three-game skid for the Huskies comes after a stretch in which the team had won two games in a row and nine of its last 10. They’ve given up at least 70 points in each game of their current losing streak, averaging 67 points compared to the 74 points they were averaging in the seven games prior. They were allowing 64 points to opposing teams in that seven-game period.

The Huskies got off to a slow start in the game, allowing the Bulls to go on a 17-1 run in the first five minutes. Buffalo let NIU back into the game later in the half, allowing the Huskies to trim the lead to as low as six points thanks to a great performance from their bench. NIU also got lots of help from the free throw line – the team went 21-24 from the stripe in the first period despite only shooting 34 percent from the field. The Bulls led 47-41 at halftime.

The Huskies cut the lead to two early on in the second half, but Buffalo went on another big run that all but sealed the game. The Bulls pushed the lead back up to double digits with more than 14 minutes left in the game and never allowed NIU back into the game again. Buffalo was led by freshman guard Lamonte Bearden, who logged 35 minutes, scoring 23 points and picking up seven rebounds. The Huskies were led by freshman Marshawn Wilson – the 6-foot-3-inch guard scored a career high 25 points in just 30 minutes.

“If you are a road team and you come out with a great start like Buffalo did, it makes you feel comfortable,” said head coach Mark Montgomery, according to an NIU Athletics news release. “Credit Buffalo, they came out swinging and it was like we were still in the locker room. They shot the ball extremely well early on. They cooled off in the second half but we just couldn’t get started.

We came out in the second half and we were more aggressive. We cut the lead to one, but they [got] out in transition, they made a play, they made another play and a one-point lead became an eight or nine-point lead. We just couldn’t slow them down.”

The Huskies’ quest for a 20-win season is still within reach with nine games remaining in the regular season. Four of their remaining games will be at home, where the team is now 13-1. They’ve only managed to go 3-5 on the road, where they will need to play much better if they have any chance at achieving the 20-win feat. Their next test will come this week as they battle with Ohio University. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in Athens, Ohio.