Men’s basketball drop one game in Athens


NIU guard Demarcus Grady dribbles down the court in a game against the Ohio Bobcats.

By Andrew Singer

Facing off against the defending MAC Champion Ohio Bobcats on Saturday afternoon, the NIU men’s basketball team fell 80-73 in Athens.

The Bobcats staked out a large lead after some early shooting woes. NIU (7-14 overall, 3-6 MAC) made a late comeback attempt, cutting the deficit to five with four minutes remaining.

Ohio regained control following a timeout, however, and cruised to a seven-point win. Senior guard Xavier Silas led NIU with 25 points.  

Standout freshman Nate Rucker went down early for the Huskies, contributing largely to the loss. The Memphis, Tenn. native left the game after sustaining two hard fouls. Rucker attempted to come back, but retreated to the locker room for X-rays after re-aggravating the injury.

With Rucker out of commission and forward Cameron Madlock not on the road trip due to personal reasons, the Huskies were left without a post presence. The Bobcats outscored NIU 38-16 in the paint.

“We basically had five guards on the floor for much of the first half,” said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton.

Ohio (11-12, 4-5) took advantage of the short-handed Huskies in the first half. The Bobcats’ stingy defense limited NIU to 36 percent shooting in the first and 39 percent for the game.

“We held them to 40 percent from the field for the game,” said Ohio head coach John Groce. “Obviously in the first half I thought we defended at a really high level.”

Coming off a 15-point performance against Bowling Green, Antone Christian came out firing on Saturday. The redshirt freshman finished with a career-high 17 points. Christian has set a career high in points in four of the Huskies last five games.

“Antone is coming along nicely,” Patton said. “It seems like each game he’s showing progress in some way.”

Looking to duplicate the progress Christian has shown this season, DeMarcus Grady set career highs in points (9) and minutes (20) on Saturday.