Men’s basketball looking for redemption


Sophomore Travon Baker (5) dribbles the ball down court durring Saturday’s game against Buffalo. NIU lost, 75-67.

By Brian Earle

After losing a heartbreaker to Kent State in overtime earlier this season, men’s basketball is looking for a better result in a rematch with the Golden Flashes at 6 p.m. today.

In the Huskies’ (7-11, 1-5 MAC) 73-64 loss at the Convocation Center, guard Devareaux Manley drilled a 3-point basket in the final minute to force overtime, as guard Travon Baker failed to get up a shot for the Huskies in the final seconds.

After defeating the Huskies, the Golden Flashes (11-8, 2-4 MAC) have lost three straight conference games.

The Golden Flashes’ guards were big contributors in the first meeting with the Huskies, as guard Kris Brewer scored a game-high 25 points and guard Derek Jackson dropped 14 points while Manley added 10 points.

“Second time around, they’re a little more familiar with us and we’re a little more familiar with them,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “We know that any of their guards are capable of having big nights. We have to contain Brewer coming off ball screens; we have to be there on the catch with Jackson and Manley.

“And then [Darren] Goodson didn’t have a good game the first game, but he’s coming off a big game against Toledo and Western Michigan…. So they are a very good offensive team and they are stingy on defense.”

Despite losing their last four conference games in a row, the Huskies have been playing better on the offensive side of the ball. In their loss to Toledo, the Huskies had four players score 10 points or more. In the loss to Buffalo, the Huskies had three players score in double digits.

Baker has been huge for the Huskies in conference play, leading the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game. Forward Aksel Bolin’s performance has improved in MAC play, averaging 8.8 points per game. He is coming off his season-high 17-point performance against Buffalo.

“It’s been great because we’ve been struggling with scoring and it’s going to give us a better opportunity to win games,” Montgomery said. “Now all we need is our guards to score well when our bigs score well…. So we need all of our players playing at their best, so we need to continue to at least have four players [score in double figures]; I think that’s our magic number.

“But it’s been better because then you can’t just key in on one or two guys when we have multiple players being aggressive and scoring the ball for us.”