Fouls doom men’s basketball’s upset bid

By Brian Earle

Men’s basketball (13-16, 7-10 MAC) was unable to take down another powerhouse MAC team as it lost, 61-56, Tuesday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

With the Huskies’ trailing Western Michigan (20-9, 13-4 MAC) by three points in the final seconds, guard Aaron Armstead knocked down a huge 3-pointer and it looked like the game was heading to overtime, deadlocked at 59-59.

The only problem was the 3-pointer didn’t count as the referees waved the shot off and called an offensive foul on Armstead for pushing off to create space prior to the shot.

Following the foul, coach Mark Montgomery received his first technical foul in three seasons for arguing the call, resulting in center Shayne Whittington hitting two free throws to secure a 61-56 victory for the Broncos at home on Senior Night.

“You have to respect the call the official makes,” Montgomery said. “I always say that players should decide the outcomes of the game, but we had other opportunities to win the game.

“You have to credit Western Michigan; they found a way to win it in the end. We were a little shorthanded tonight, but both teams played hard.”

The Huskies and Broncos took turns holding the lead in the first half as the lead went back and forth seven times. The Huskies defensive effort gave the Broncos fits, forcing them to shoot 34 percent from the field in the first half.

NIU held the MAC’s leading-scorer, guard David Brown, in check in the first half, allowing him to score just two points. While Brown got off to a slow start, Whittington carried the Broncos, scoring 11 of his game-high 21 points in the first half.

The Huskies ended up taking a slim 25-24 lead into halftime after guard Aaric Armstead made a reverse layup with 15 seconds left.

In the second half, Brown went to work right out of the gates. He scored the Broncos’ first six points of the half on an old-fashioned 3-point play followed by a 3-pointer. He ended up scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

The Huskies maintained their lead until the 3:42 mark in the second half, when Brown knocked down three free throws to give the Broncos a 49-48 lead.

Center Jordan Threloff knotted the game up at 49-49 on the Huskies’ next possession after splitting a pair of free throws at the line.

Brown went right down the floor and scored on a layup and at the other end Aaron Armstead knocked down a jumper to tie the game at 51-51 with 2:48 remaining.

Whittington then scored four straight points for the Broncos on a putback dunk and two free throws to give them a 55-51 lead with 1:41 left in the game.

The Armstead brothers brought the Huskies back to tie the game as Aaric hit two free throws at the line and Aaron converted on a layup with 46 seconds left.

The Broncos scored six points in the final seconds as the Huskies were only able to score one point at the free throw line.

Aaric Armstead led the Huskies with 15 points while Threloff recorded his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.