Hawkeyes surge in second half to blow out Huskies 88-55


Northern Illinois head coach Mark Montgomery shouts to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Iowa on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Brian Ray) MAGS OUT

By Brian Belford

Turnovers and bad shooting will almost always result in a loss.

Both statistics plagued the NIU men’s basketball team Thursday night against the Iowa Hawkeyes, as the Huskies lost by 33 points in an 88-55 blowout on the road.

The Huskies started the game out well, holding a two point lead after five minutes. Halfway through the first half, they trailed by only five points due to a strong performance from freshman forward Abdel Nader, who matched his career high with 18 points in the game.

“I thought that our team shot the ball well in the first half,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “But you have to give Iowa credit; they shot the ball even better.”

Any thoughts of an upset were washed away after Iowa started to play like a Big Ten team, as the Hawkeyes proceeded to go on a 24-10 run, hanging almost half a hundred on the Huskies to lead 49-30 at halftime.

In the second half, the Huskies, who normally come out strong in the second period, came out flat allowing the Hawkeyes to go on an 18-10 run. B the time NIU had scored 14 points in the second half, Iowa had 80 points, built on the strength of an impressive 31-14 run.

“In the second half I thought that we ran out of gas and Iowa turned it up a notch. You have to credit their shooters, they did a great job tonight,” Montgomery said.

Senior guard Matt Gatens and freshman guard Josh Oglesby each had 16 points to lead the team in scoring, and senior forward Eric May sunk a team-high six shots for 14 points. But the Hawkeyes didn’t have to rely on outstanding individual performances.

Iowa scored 28 points off of 16 NIU turnovers, had 34 points in the paint to the Huskies’ 11, and its fast tempo gave the Hawkeyes an easy 16 points off of fast break chances.

“I have seen very few shooters that shoot the ball like he does in 29 years,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said of Oglesby. “When you have them like that, what they have to know is that I have every bit as much confidence in him as he has in himself, and he can shoot it whenever he wants to, early in the shot clock, at the end of the shot clock, off one pass, in transition, doesn’t matter.”

While Nader did have the team high 18 points, but he had almost no help from his teammates. Almost every Huskie saw some action in the game, but senior forward Tim Toler was the only other NIU player to reach double digits. Toler went 4-of-11 from the floor and finished with 10 points.

The game wasn’t without positives for the young huskies. NIU stayed right with Iowa on the glass, recording 34 rebounds to the Hawkeyes 35, and while they turned the ball over a lot, it was significantly less than the 23 turnovers the team had against UW-Milwaukee.

“I thought we rebounded the ball well and we did a better job with our turnovers tonight,” said Montgomery.