Men’s basketball defeats Judson in home opener

By Brian Earle

In men’s basketball’s home opener, it earned its first win of the season as it took down Judson University 72-54 at the NIU Convocation Center Sunday.

The Huskies (1-2) were led offensively by freshmen forward Sam Mader and guard Akeem Springs, who each scored 16 points.

Despite the end result, the Huskies found themselves down 17-20 midway through the first half after the Eagles hit five consecutive 3-pointers.

The Eagles shot 12-31 from downtown, shooting 38 percent for the game. They were led by freshman guard Luke Pearson, who hit three 3-pointers and scored nine points.

“You have to give Judson a lot of credit: They came out and made shots,” said NIU coach Mark Montgomery in a news conference. “We didn’t always do a good job of contesting but you still have to make them and they made them in the first half, jumping out on us by [eight]. We put a pretty good run together but they battled back as well.”

The Huskies would answer back with a 17-3 run of their own and take the lead, 27-20. Sophomore forward Kevin Gray led the run, scoring eight of the 17 points.

Going into intermission, the Huskies led 39-32, after shooting 50 percent in the first half.

At the start of the second half, 3-point shooting again got the Eagles back into the game. They hit three straight 3-pointers to make the score 44-41 with 15:31 left to play in the game.

With the score 55-52, the Huskies sealed the deal and closed the game on a 17-2 run.

NIU had its advantage against Judson on the glass, as it out-rebounded the Eagles 38-19. That resulted in 18 second chance points for the Huskies, compared to zero for the Eagles.

The Huskies also did a good job of controlling the ball and limiting its turnovers.

“The good I take is that we only turned the ball over nine times and we out-rebounded them by 18, that’s the positives,” Montgomery said in a news conference. “The negatives are that we didn’t come out punching at the beginning of the game. It doesn’t matter who you play, you have to respect your opponent and perform when the ball in thrown in the air.”