Men’s basketball caps ‘impressive’ comeback

By Steve Shonder

Men’s basketball could have given up when it faced a 21-point deficit days after a 21-point road loss. Instead, it fought back and pulled off an unlikely comeback win.

The Huskies (3-1) fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2), 70-49, Wednesday in Iowa City, Iowa. They followed up the loss with an improbable 21-point comeback to knock off the Maine Black Bears (0-5), 61-56, Sunday at the Convocation Center.

The 21-point comeback is the largest under fourth-year head coach Mark Montgomery.


The Huskies struggled shooting the ball, going for long stretches without a field goal. They shot 27.9 percent from the floor.

“I thought we took a few quick ones,” Montgomery said. “We needed our guards to make a perimeter shot to settle things down. But when you’re on the road, you can’t take quick ones.”

The missed shots enabled Iowa to work in outlet passes that led to open baskets. Senior forward Aaron White scored 14 points, including 10 in the first half. He put away several wide-open buckets in transition.

The poor shooting was contagious until the Hawkeyes found their rhythm going on a 16-0 run in the first half. NIU was not able to respond to tie the game.

“We made runs, and we cut that lead to single digits,” Montgomery said. “I like that we battled. When you see a disappointed locker room, you know they tried to compete.”

The Huskies were even with Iowa in the rebounding battle with 38 each. NIU had 23 offensive rebounds, much of which came from redshirt senior Jordan Threloff’s 11 rebounds. Threloff had nine rebounds in the first half.

Sophomore Aaric Armstead had 13 points and seven rebounds. Threloff missed his second-straight double-double after scoring nine points. Junior Darrell Bowie scored nine points, but foul trouble kept him from being a larger factor.


After trailing by 21 points to Maine, the Huskies went on a 28-2 run in the final 10 minutes of regulation to pull off an improbable comeback. With the defense clamping down on Maine and starting to force turnovers in transition, the offense took advantage.

“It was just manning up, coming together and getting team stops,” said redshirt sophomore Michael Orris. “Once we got team stops, our offense took care of itself. Once we got some turnovers going, we started rolling.”

After junior Travon Baker hit a free throw to pull the game even at 56, Maine junior Till Gloger fouled Bowie to send him to the line. Bowie sank both free throws to give NIU its first lead of the game after trailing for more than 34 minutes. Armstead iced the game with a pair of free throws in the final seconds to cap off the Huskies’ comeback.

“I’ve been coaching … almost 20 years, and I’ve never seen a team end a game on a 28-2 run,” Montgomery said. “It was the most impressive thing to be a part of.”

Maine took advantage of NIU’s poor shooting in the first half to go on a 12-0 run. The Huskies managed to make only five buckets in the first half with the rest of their points coming from the free-throw line.

Maine has 29 team fouls and had three players foul out, including its leading scorer, sophomore Marko Pirovic, who had 10 points. NIU took 36 free throws, including 20 in the second half.

“Our free throws were solid,” Bowie said. “We stopped the clock every time, and it brought us back into the game.”

Orris, who got his first career start, scored a game-high 18 points, seven coming off free throws. Bowie finished with 16 points and eight boards.