NIU falls to Akon 53-68


James McCarter | Northern Star Sophomore Forward Keith Gray for Northern Illinois University goes up for a layup during the Huskies game against Akron.

By Jacob Onak

Coming off a big road MAC-opener win against Miami of Ohio, the men’s basketball team (3-11, 1-1 MAC) turned its focus to the Akron Zips (11-4, 2-0 MAC) in its MAC home opener.

The Huskies put themselves in a hole early and, despite their second-half run, NIU fell to Akron 53-68.

NIU got the tip at game’s beginning and started at a high tempo, putting Akron on its heels, going up 4-0 in the first two minutes. However, the Zips found their feet and tied the score up 4-4 going into the first media timeout with 15:37 left to play.

NIU freshman wing Darrell Bowie thought the tempo at the beginning of the game favored NIU.

“I think to start the game the energy, it was there,” Bowie said. “We got to the foul line. We got to capitalize on free throws…we were where we wanted to be, though. They went on their run and I think it was just best for us if we just stayed solid and not get our energy too low.”

With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Akron offense got going. They ended the half with a 12-point lead on the Huskies thanks to freshman wing Reggie McAdams. McAdams had 12 points going 3-3 from behind the arc as the Zips ended the half up 36-24.

The second half started and NIU slowly started to grind its way back into the game. The Huskies cut the lead down to six points in the middle of the second half thanks to a 3-pointer from junior forward/guard Aksel Bolin. It was the Huskies’ lone 3-pointer of the game.

Cutting the lead down to six points was the closest NIU would get as Akron took control once again. The Zips took a 19-point lead as they went up 66-47 with 3:40 left to play in the game.

Struggles from behind the arc continued to plague the Huskies as they ended the game going 1-14 at the 3-point line, and ultimately lost.

Bowie ended the game with a team- and career-high 13 points going 4-7 from the field while Akron’s McAdams ended with 20 points going 6-6 from the field, 4-4 from the 3-point line.

Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said the Zips’ height gave NIU a lot of problems.

“I think ultimately our size just bothered them,” Dambrot said. “We are probably the biggest team in the MAC overall and I think that just wears you out at times because [when] one 7-footer gets in foul trouble then the other 7-footer goes in and that’s hard. We are big in the power forward position as well, and I think that ultimately bothered them.”

NIU head coach Mark Montgomery said the struggles from behind the arc really hurt the Huskies.

“Akron is a very good team,” Montgomery said. “There is a reason why they’re picked first or second to win the league and I told my guys we know where the bar is. It’s tough to beat one of the top teams in the MAC when you only can make one [3-pointer]. We came in shooting the ball very well and, unfortunately, we couldn’t get on track today.“