Men’s basketball ends four-game losing streak


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

By Brian Earle

Behind an impressive defensive performance and a strong second-half comeback, men’s basketball (8-11, 2-5 MAC) got the best of Kent State (11-9, 2-5 MAC) in its rematch on Wednesday night, earning a 50-49 victory on the road.

Trailing by one, 49-48, with five seconds left in the game, guard Travon Baker stepped to the line and knocked down two free throws to give the Huskies a 50-49 lead. Kent State guard Kris Brewer put up a three-pointer but to no avail as center Jordan Threloff secured the rebound and the victory.

“It was a great comeback and a great team win,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “We had three guys score in double figures and Kent State only had one, so our defensive effort was very good. When we got behind in the second half, we didn’t panic, we just said, ‘let’s get three stops in a row,’ and we were able to keep plugging away.”

The Huskies’ (8-11, 2-5 MAC) defense gave the Golden Flashes (11-9, 2-5 MAC) headaches all night long, holding them to their season-low point total, 49, which is well below their season average of 72.8 points per game.

NIU turned up its defensive pressure in the second half following an early Kent State 12-0 run to go up 40-26 with 14:31 left to play in the game. From that point on, the Huskies played lockdown defense and forced the Golden Flashes into nine of their 18 turnovers for the game.

The Huskies defensive pressure allowed them to go on a 20-5 run over the next nine minutes to take a 46-45 lead with 3:16 remaining, their first lead of the game since leading 3-2 with 18:46 to play in the first half.

During the Huskies run, Baker scored seven points, wing Darrell Bowie dropped in six points and forward Aksel Bolin added five points.

The Huskies and Golden Flashes traded the lead four times over the next three minutes as forward Mark Henniger gave the Golden Flashes a 47-46 lead with a slam dunk.

After being fouled with 30 seconds left, Bolin went to the line to regain the lead for the Huskies, knocking down two free throws. Kent State guard Devareaux Manley was fouled with nine seconds left and he drilled his two free throws to give the Golden Flashes a 49-48 lead, which set up Baker’s game winning free throws.

Bolin led the Huskies offensively with 14 points and hit three 3-point field goals. Baker scored 11 points and Threloff added 10 points and eight rebounds. The lone scorer in double figures for Kent State was forward Darren Goodson with 10 points.