NIU men’s basketball: Eastern Michigan Eagles hold off Huskies


Redshirt sophomore Michael Orris (55) drives past an Eastern Michigan Eagles defender in the game Saturday at the Convocation Center. Orris was one of three Huskies to foul out in the 73-65 loss.

By Steve Shonder

What happened

Men’s basketball (10-15, 4-10 MAC) fell to the Eastern Michigan Eagles (17-10, 6-8 MAC), 73-65, Saturday at the Convocation Center. The Huskies remain slated for the No. 10 seed in the MAC Tournament.

How it happened

The Huskies weren’t able to overcome a big deficit despite another comeback attempt.

The Eagles led for nearly the entire first half, with the Huskies only able to get within four points before Eastern Michigan began to stretch out its lead. The Eagles used a 17-2 run to race out to a 16-point halftime lead. NIU finished the half with just six field goals — three came from beyond the arc — and had 12 turnovers.

The second half was a different story for the Huskies. Their defense was getting to Eastern Michigan’s shooters, only allowing them to shoot 33 percent, and they were able to get big stops, which enabled them to open the half with a 10-2 run and follow it up with a 7-0 run.

Despite the great defense and good shooting in the second half, the Huskies couldn’t regain the lead. Their comeback hit a road bump as junior Travon Baker and redshirt sophomore Michael Orris fouled out. The foul line dictated the remainder of the game.

Redshirt senior Jordan Threloff scored 10 points and added five rebounds. Sophomore Aaric Armstead picked up 10 rebounds. Eagles junior Karrington Ward scored 21 points and had nine rebounds while playing all 40 minutes.

The number: 58

That’s the number of fouls called against both teams, and 30 of them were on the Huskies. Five players fouled out, including three for NIU: Baker, Orris and Armstead. Baker’s fifth foul came on a questionable call with 10 minutes left in the game.

Northern Star players of the game

Eastern Michigan’s Mike Talley scored a career-high 25 points and added five assists. His 19 first-half points helped carry the Eagles. He also hit back-to-back 3-pointers that keyed the Eagles’ 17-2 run. Talley was 10-14 from the free-throw line.

Redshirt senior Anthony Johnson scored a career-high 23 points and was 5-8 from beyond the arc. Johnson was a big part of the Huskies’ comeback attempt offensively as he scored 15 points. He also converted a four-point play that cut the deficit to four in the second half.

The quote

“It really hurt when we lost Baker,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. Baker and Orris “had picked up four fouls, so it was only a matter of time, but I thought he got us in a pretty good rhythm. It changed the game. It changed the game when both guys got two fouls before halftime, but when you only have two point guards on your roster and they both are playing with four fouls it changes things.”

Up next

The Huskies go on a one-game road trip to take on the Toledo Rockets (18-9, 10-4 MAC) 6 p.m. Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio.