NIU men’s basketball: Huskies beat Ball State, end 3-game home skid

By Steve Shonder

What happened

Men’s basketball (10-12, 4-7 MAC) took down the Ball State Cardinals (7-15, 2-9 MAC), 75-63, Tuesday at the Convocation Center. The win ended a three-game home losing streak.

How it happened

After a closely contested first half, the Huskies used a 12-1 run in the second half to pull away from the Cardinals. Redshirt sophomore Michael Orris scored five points during the run, including a 3-pointer from the corner off an assist from redshirt freshman Marin Maric.

Ball State cut the deficit to four in the final minutes of the second half behind a pair of 3-pointers from redshirt sophomore Rocco Belcaster and sophomore Zavier Turner. The Huskies ended the Ball State threat with an 8-0 run that stretched to the end of the game.

NIU dominated the inside game early, scoring 32 points in the paint compared to 20 points in the paint for the Cardinals. As the game progressed, the Huskies went away from the paint, but they were able to find solid outside shots and hit eight of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc.

The Huskies had four players score in double-digits. Junior Travon Baker scored 16 points. Redshirt senior Jordan Threloff had 12 points and eight rebounds. Orris added 11 points, and senior Aaron Armstead scored 10.

The number: 70

That’s the Huskies’ second-half shooting percentage as they went on to score 40 points in the second frame. They also went 5-7 beyond the 3-point line in the second half.

Northern Star players of the game

Junior Baker paced the Huskies with 16 points and hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of the game. Baker wasn’t just a big contributor on offense as at the 17:01 mark he recorded his 121st steal of his career. The steal put him in sole possession of seventh on NIU’s all-time steals list.

Junior Jeremiah Davis kept the Cardinals’ offense rolling in the first half. He went 5-5 from the field on his way to 11 points in the first half.

The quotes

“We were definitely getting good passes from each other, and we were definitely feeling it,” Orris said. “You have to credit the passers. The shot’s only as good as the pass.”

“We wanted to establish the post early in both halves,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “Sometimes, if it’s Threloff or [junior Darrell] Bowie, paint touches are like post touches. If we can drive and get to the free-throw line or get layups we’re going to take those. But, they made some adjustments at halftime, they have good coaches, good players, but we got back to doing what was successful in the first half. I thought we were very efficient. We made 70 percent. I don’t care who’s taking shots. We made 70 percent, and that’s hard to do.”

“To be top 10 on any school list is something special,” Baker said. “It’s a good feeling.”