Huskies have momentum down stretch


After the Huskies 84-80 victory over the dismal Penguins of Youngstown State last night, Huskie head coach Brian Hammel talked of the biggest factor that his team needs to gain for the Mid-Continent Conference tournament this weekend.


“What the coaches and I have to do is build on the positive because our team is fragile right now,” said Hammel. “But overall I think our momentum was okay knowing that you can’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss. College basketball is a game of streaks.”

The “streaks” showed up last night as the Huskies jumped out quickly against the Penguins and took a nine point advantage at half time and having their lead cut to as low as two with 1:30 left in the game.

“I felt that the game was too fast for us tonight. We had our opportunities on the break, but we just could not capitalize,” said Hammel.

“NIU is playing very good basketball right now and I think they will be ready for the tournament,” said YSU head coach John Stroia. “I’m just sad for our three seniors because they’re competitors and just fell short tonight.”

The Penguins’ seniors of Marc Vassar, Reggie Kemp and Jerome Sims had 35 of the team’s total of 80 and 19 rebounds of the team’s total of 30.

But since it was the Huskies making a tribute to their seniors last night, Randy Fens and David Mitchell came through not with their scoring, but their work on the boards. Fens had a game-high 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end and Mitchell chipped in with four.

“I thought that the team started off slow but we really picked it up with the play of our guards,” said Mitchell.

The guard combination of Mitchell, Randy Tucker, Vaurice Patterson and Mike Lipnisky accounted for 54 of the 84 total points with Tucker dropping in a team season-high 26 points and Lipnisky adding 20.

“There are some games where I feel confident in my shot and this was one of them,” said Tucker. “Some games, my shots just go in.”

Although the Huskies never closed the door on the last place Penguins until the final minute, the win put NIU in second place in the conference for the tournament and will now open against Valparaiso on Sunday.

“In regards to our momentum, some of our wins were great, but that is behind us now. We have to focus on future achievements, not on past performances because that is what could lead to upsets,” said Hammel.

Well said for a coach who should be in the running for Mid-Continent Conference coach of the year.