Big first half propels NIU’s victory

By Mark D. Morrey

NIU’s men’s basketball team dominated the first half Monday night in its final exhibition match against the Lee Jeans Amateur Athletic Union.

When the buzzer sounded, NIU was up 48-33 led by guards Mike Lipnisky and David Mitchell with 11 points apiece.

After a slow start on defense, the Huskies gathered themselves and started to take off. A series of Lee Jeans fouls (five to be exact) set NIU off on a 16-2 run that put Brian Hammel’s

squad up 17 points, and they never looked back, winning 94-77.

Lee Jeans did not help themselves out much by turning the ball over 17 times in the first half compared to NIU’s six.

“We showed progress from last week,” said Hammel. “Our defense was most improved.”

Hammel was happy with his defense that forced 25 turnovers in the game and made Lee Jeans pay with its improved transition game.

Once again, it was sophomore Lipnisky pacing the Huskies with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting along with a pair of three-pointers. NIU also featured five players with double-digits in scoring for the second game in a row.

“We want to make sure we don’t beat ourselves,” said Hammel. “We have to stop unforced errors.”

Hammel wants other teams to pay for their mistakes and for NIU to stop making them.

The story of the game perhaps was sophomore Hubert Register who got the start in place of center Steve Oldendorf. Register scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high five rebounds in only 21 minutes. He left the game with a foot injury, which was not believed to be serious.

Also hurting was center-forward Randy Fens with a knee injury. He was hindered last season with a bad knee, which required a six-pound brace, but is recovered. The injuries are not related.

Meanwhile, guard Marlin Simms was in street clothes with a back injury and is getting an MRI done today.

Lee Jeans came back in the second half and played NIU tough but could get no closer than 13. Lee Jeans was led by Illinois Benedictine College alum Jason Forrestall with 17 points and David Litkenhus with 14.