NIU men’s basketball: Huskies fall victim to Miami (Ohio) RedHawks

By Steve Shonder

What happened

Men’s basketball (8-9, 2-4 MAC) lost a back-and-forth game to the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (7-12, 2-4 MAC), 60-55, Saturday at the Convocation Center.

How it happened

After the RedHawks went 0-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute, a missed 3-pointer from redshirt senior Anthony Johnson with 21 seconds remaining ended up being the Huskies’ last chance to pull off the win. Miami senior Will Sullivan responded by hitting four-straight free throws to ice the game.

The Huskies struggled to shoot the ball, only making 33.3 percent of their shots. More than half of the Huskies’ field goal attempts came from beyond the 3-point line, and they were only able to convert five of those shots.

NIU’s aggressive approach early helped the Huskies stay in the game, as they got to the free-throw line 13 times in the first half, compared to Miami’s four trips to the line.

It was a back-and-forth game from the opening tip with neither team able to take a commanding lead throughout. The RedHawks led all the way through the first half, but they never saw their lead grow beyond seven. Despite several runs by NIU, the Huskies couldn’t extend their lead by more than four points.

The number: 30

That was the number of 3-pointers the Huskies took. It wasn’t bad shot selection for NIU. More than a few times, the Huskies had a shooter wide open in the corner. The shots just weren’t falling as the Huskies made only five 3-pointers.

Northern Star players of the game

Senior Aaron Armstead came off the bench to pace the Huskies with 15 points on 6-11 shooting. Armstead also contributed four rebounds and was NIU’s most effective 3-point shooter. He went 3-8 from the 3-point line.

The Redhawks’ Sullivan led them in scoring with 14 points and came up with some clutch baskets, including the free throws they needed to ice the game in the final seconds.

The quotes

“There was a point where we’re down in the game, and Northern makes a run, and they go up 41-38 off a 3,” said Miami head coach John Cooper. “Willie Moore comes in and hits a 3[-pointer], and I believe it tied the score 41-all. That was [a] big basket at that moment because that was an opportunity for Northern to possibly stretch [the lead]. Guys stepped up.”

“We have no trap games,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “Every single game in my mind is a pick ’em. We’re never favored; we’re never underdogs. This is the MAC. Anyone can beat anyone from 1 to 12. I always tell my guys there’s no guarantee because you’re playing at home that you are going to win the game. You have to play for 40 minutes.”

“A couple shots, I feel like I did settle, but at the same time they were giving me good looks,” Armstead said. “I was feeling good, but we probably could have gone to the rim a little bit more.”