Basketball breaks streak with late win


Junior guard Aaric Armstead drives around the key in Saturday’s game against the University of Akron. The Huskies beat the Zips 80-79.

By Krystal Ward

Men’s basketball (17-8, 6-6 MAC) drew its biggest crowd of the season Saturday, snapping its five-game losing streak in a thrilling 80-79 victory against the University of Akron (20-5, 9-3 MAC) at the Convocation Center.

Junior guard Aaric Armstead was clutch down the stretch, making key plays and shots in the final seconds. Armstead finished the game with a team-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Freshman guard Marshawn Wilson received his first start of the season, replacing junior guard Michael Orris. NIU head coach Mark Montgomery said he wanted to shake things up because the team had “not been getting off to the greatest starts on the offensive end.”

“Sometimes you got to shake some things up,” he said. “I just thought that from what I saw in practice and this unit getting a lot more time to play with each other, I just thought that was the best thing for this game.”

Wilson didn’t waste any time making an impact in his first start as he hit a layup seven seconds into the game.

The teams played evenly through the first half, with Akron leading at halftime 41-40. Armstead drained three consecutive triples in just more than a minute to give the Huskies a 14-7 lead six minutes into the game. Freshman guard Laytwan Porter knocked down a three to give the Huskies a 20-14 lead with close to 12 minutes to play in the first half, but the Zips kept the Huskies scoreless for nearly three minutes as they chipped back into the game and took a 21-20 lead.

Senior forward Reggie McAdams drained a three just seconds into the second half to give Akron a 44-40 lead. The Zips largest lead was nine, 61-52, after senior wing Jake Kretzer drilled a triple.

The Huskies clawed their way back into the game after senior wing Chuks Iroegbu grabbed an offensive board and slammed it back in to tie the game at 64 with 7:42 left to play. The Huskies held the visitors scoreless for close to three minutes.

A triple by Zips sophomore guard Noah Robotham tied the game at 71 with less than five minutes left in regulation. The final minutes were intense and a technical foul was called on Akron head coach Keith Dambrot. NIU senior guard Travon Baker made one of two free throws to give NIU a 74-71 lead. The Huskies closed the game out in the final moments, holding on for the one-point win.

“It felt like a heavyweight fight,” Montgomery said. “You can see why Akron is so tough to beat. I’m going to give our guys some credit. They battled. They fought for forty minutes. They didn’t put their heads down when we got down eight or nine in the second half.”

It seems like every MAC game nowadays is coming down to the last four or five minutes. This game is no different. Glad to have Aaric Armstead on my team today.”

The Huskies will return to action as they welcome Bowling Green State University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Convocation Center.