Huskies keep historic streak going

By Krystal Ward

Defense continues to be a staple for men’s basketball, (16-3, 5-1 MAC) which defeated Toledo (12-7, 3-3 MAC) 58-49 in front of a packed house at the Convocation Center.

The Huskies scored just four points in more than four minutes before a timeout ignited a small run. Senior guard Travon Baker hit a three that put the home team up 7-4 with just under 16 minutes to play in the half.

Freshman guard Nick Rogers answered Baker’s three with two of his own on back-to-back Toldeo possessions to put the Rockets up 10-7 with 13:30 to play in the first.

NIU sophomore center Marin Maric picked up two fouls in less than one minute that forced him to come out of the game until the last few minutes of the period. He picked up his third foul with 3:23 left in the first that took him out for the rest of the half.

Freshman wing Levi Bradley broke an NIU scoring drought after he hit a mid-range jumper over Toledo center Nathan Boothe to cut the Rockets’ lead to 19-12.

Junior guard Aaric Armstead drove for layups on back-to-back possessions to trim Toledo’s lead to 23-21. Baker hit a three at the 2:30 mark to cut Toledo’s lead to one, and knocked down a transition three to put the Huskies in front 27-25. NIU went into the break with a 29-27 lead.

Toledo cut the lead to five points on a three pointer by Boothe, but that was as close as the Rockets got to the Huskies in the final minutes. Baker hit two free throws with about 30 seconds left to seal the game for the home team.

Both teams shot 31.1 percent (19-61) for the game. NIU scored 14 points off of 18 Toledo turnovers. Toledo scored 14 points off of 13 NIU turnovers. Toledo had zero fast break points but edged NIU 20-16 in points in the paint. Both teams had 12 second chance points and the Huskies held a 7-6 edge in assists.

Baker led the Huskies with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Armstead and Bradley contributed 12 points each. Boothe led the Rockets, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

“Our team is built on defense and rebounding,” said Huskies head coach Mark Montgomery. “If you look at the stats before the game, Toledo is number one in all the offensive categories. We’re number one and number two in all the defensive categories. You have more off nights on offense. You can’t have off nights on defense.

“I thought our guys did a great job of locking down their offensive players…we did enough offensively to win the game. Levi Bradley surely stepped up, Jaylen Key stepped up on the defensive end when Marin wasn’t available. And then [Travon] Baker, he’s being [Travon] when he makes clutch shots, free throws, threes and Aaric Armstead, double-figure game, very solid but he shut down [Jonathan] Williams and that was a huge key to the game.”

The Huskies return to action as they travel to Akron, Ohio to take on the Zips. They will move to 17-3 with a win. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday.