Men’s basketball slams Benedictine

By Sean Ostruszka

All smiles.

That’s what the NIU bench was throughout most of Monday’s game.

But then again, a 48-point victory will usually do that.

For the first time this season, the men’s basketball team got to hit the court and actually play an opponent other than themselves.

The outcome: a 101-53 exhibition game win over Benedictine.

Coming into the game, NIU knew it would have a size advantage over the visiting Eagles, whose tallest player stood 6-foot-7.

The Huskies used this to their advantage, scoring 30 of their 47 first half points from within five feet of the basket.

“Establishing ourselves in the post was one of our main goals for this game,” said forward Todd Peterson. “When we start scoring down low then the outside game comes like it did tonight.”

Despite the lopsided score at halftime, Benedictine managed to keep the game close for much of the first half with its three-point shooting. The Eagles started the game 5-of-7 from behind the arc.

Guard Mike Shimkus and forward Jimmy Franklin lead the shooting attack as both combined for eight three’s.

But in the end the Eagles couldn’t keep up that pace and NIU made the adjustments to pull away for a 47-28 halftime lead.

Junior guard Mike McKinney and Peterson led the way for NIU from the beginning. Peterson hit five three-pointers for 19 points while McKinney chipped in with 16 points, 14 in the first half.

By having such a large lead throughout most of the game, NIU coach Rob Judson got the opportunity to see what he had in many of his new players.

Ben Rand, a transfer from Iowa, Ryan Paradise, who was out last season with a wrist injury, and Craig Reichel, a red shirt last season, all played significant roles in the victory, said Judson.

“Those are some talented kids,” Judson said. “Because of them, our practices have been really competitive. Those guys give us much more depth which we are going to need as the season goes on.”

The Huskies will have a few days of practice before their season opener at Missouri State Saturday. The team’s first regular season home game isn’t until Nov. 26 against Aurora at the Convocation Center.