DeKALB — After dropping both games on its road trip, the men’s basketball team returns home to the Convocation Center for a rematch against the Central Michigan University Chippewas.
The Huskies lost the first game of their road trip against the Ball State University Cardinals 63-59 Feb. 11 in Muncie, Indiana. They then traveled to Oxford, Ohio on Saturday for a rematch against the Miami University–Ohio RedHawks, where they fell 65-60 after attempting a late comeback.
Although the Huskies suffered a pair of losses, NIU’s opponent CMU has dropped its last four games, including a 77-69 loss Tuesday to the Ohio University Bobcats in Athens, Ohio. Due to this recent stretch of losses, the Chippewas find themselves 13-12 overall, and 6-6 in Mid-American Conference play.
CMU’s recent struggles have helped NIU immensely during its two-game losing streak, since both are in the MAC West Division. NIU continues to lead the division after Ball State suffered back-to-back losses of its own, allowing NIU to keep a one game advantage over the Cardinals in MAC play and a two and a half game advantage over the Chippewas. NIU has an 8-5 MAC record.
The Huskies and Chippewas last met Jan. 7 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where CMU narrowly defeated NIU 68-67. The Huskies held a four-point lead with 15 seconds remaining in the game, which quickly evaporated as junior guard Devontae Lane was fouled while shooting by first-year guard Tyler Cochran. Lane would go to the line and complete the three-point play, bringing the Chippewas within one.
Junior guard Zaire Mateen was then fouled by CMU, and after missing a free throw, gave the ball right back to the Chippewas with five seconds remaining.
CMU senior guard Kevin McKay got in the paint and hit the game-winning shot as time expired to lift the Chippewas over the Huskies. McKay had a game-high 21 points, while senior guard Eugene German led NIU with 20 points.
Due to the recent proximity of NIU’s games in terms of score, it’s likely Saturday’s game will be another close and gritty MAC contest, as both teams would benefit greatly from a win. NIU will have four games left on its schedule after Saturday, and CMU will have five.
The game starts at 3:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center as NIU celebrates its alumni and its 125th anniversary for Cram the Convo Night. The game will be available on ESPN3.