NIU men’s basketball: Huskies burned by Toledo Rockets

By Steve Shonder

What happened

Men’s basketball (8-11, 2-6 MAC) lost its third-straight game, as it fell to the Toledo Rockets (13-8, 5-3 MAC), 80-69, Saturday at the Convocation Center.

How it happened

Despite keeping pace with the Rockets for most of the game, a scoring drought in the final minutes of the second half stalled the Huskies’ comeback attempt. With the deficit cut to five on a layup from junior Darrell Bowie, the Huskies only managed to score two points in the final five minutes. Toledo took advantage of the drought and pushed the lead to 11.

While the Rockets held the lead for the duration of the game, it wasn’t an entirely one-sided affair. Every time Toledo pulled ahead, the Huskies were able to pull themselves back into it, but the foul trouble in the second half doomed NIU.

Toledo went into the bonus six minutes into the second half, which left NIU forced to play less aggressively than it had been. The Rockets took advantage of the free-throw line, going 19-20 in the second half.

The Huskies put together a strong effort on the defensive end, coming up with timely steals to jumpstart runs, but they weren’t able to harass Toledo’s shooters. The Rockets shot 46.9 percent for the game and shot 55 percent in the second half.

The number: 12

That is the number of free throws NIU missed on 29 attempts. Toledo converted 27 of its 31 attempts.

Northern Star players of the game

In his third game back since returning from a shoulder injury, Bowie led the Huskies in scoring with 18 points while going 7-10 from the floor. He was involved in jumpstarting almost every run, and he had a strong night defensively with five steals and steal rebounds.

Toledo senior Justin Drummond made every free-throw line appearance count, as he made all 12 of his attempts on his way to a 20-point night. Eleven of his free throws came in the second half. Drummond also went 4-5 from the field.

The quotes

“It’s just getting constant repetition and getting used to playing again,” Bowie said. “It’s hard when you shoot because it’s pushing your arm down, but it’s getting better.”

“We know we’re capable of beating anyone in the MAC,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “We know we have some experience. We see other teams in the league finding ways to win, finding ways to lose. … It’s frustrating because we know we’re better than our record.”

Up next

The Huskies will attempt to get back into the win column when they take on the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (8-13, 3-5 MAC) 6 p.m. Wednesday in Oxford, Ohio.