Huskies shoot poorly versus Mizzou

NIU makes less than a quarter of their shots in 54-37 loss to Tigers in Jacksonville Classic opener


Khavon Thomas | Northern Star

Senior center Adong Makoui (left) and junior guard Edward Manuel help up teammate and senior guard Anthony Crump during NIU’s exhibition on Oct. 30.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — Men’s basketball fell to the University of Missouri Tigers 54-37 in the first game of the Jacksonville Classic Thursday night. 

The Huskies and the Tigers battled for the lead for the majority of the game, remaining within five points of each other until the 12th minute of the second half. A 12-point scoring run late in the game by Missouri saw the Tigers move ahead with NIU unable to recover.

The leading scorers from NIU in its past two matchups, senior guard Trendon Hankerson and sophomore guard Keshawn Williams, were unable to make an impact, being held to eight and seven points, respectively. 

The Tigers jumped ahead early with a 7-2 run in the first four minutes of Thursday’s contest. NIU responded with jumpers by junior guard Darweshi Hunter and senior center Chris Osten. The Huskies continued their run with a layup from Hankerson and two successful free-throws by Williams. A three-pointer from Missouri’s DaJuan Gordon in the midst of NIU’s scoring run put the team even at 10-10 at the 10:39 mark. 

After Missouri briefly slipped ahead 14-11, the Huskies claimed their first advantage of the night with a successful free-throw by Hankerson and a three-pointer from Williams to go ahead 15-14 with 5:32 left in the first half.

The Huskies continued their attack with a trio of jump shots by senior guard Anthony Crump, senior center Adong Makoui and Hankerson. However, an eight-point run from Missouri in the final minutes allowed the Tigers to reclaim the lead and finish the half ahead 24-21. Both squads finished the opening half with six fouls a piece.

Neither team was able to score for the first three minutes of the second half until Williams made two free-throws, followed by a layup from senior forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu giving the lead back to NIU, 25-24. The advantage would change hands three more times before Missouri began a scoring streak that would ultimately give them nine points of separation. 

The final score from NIU came off a three-point jumper shot by Hunter. The Tigers put up 11 more points to give Missouri the victory. NIU finished the game with four fewer fouls than Missouri, receiving 11 fouls compared to 15 drawn on the Tigers.

NIU struggled with shooting throughout the game, going 13-for-54 on field goals and 4-of-21 on three-pointers. The Huskies were able to make 7-of-10 free-throws.

“We did well on the (defensive) side of the ball, but offensively, we have to find our rhythm,” head coach Rashon Burno said. “The last two games have been dreadful offensively. We made 13 baskets the entire night. That’s not good enough.”

None of the NIU players were able to register double-digit points in the game, with Hankerson leading the way for NIU with eight points. The senior made 3-of-17 field goals and was unable to hit on any of nine three-point shots. Hankerson also made two-of-four free-throw attempts. Williams made one field goal, one three-pointer and all four of his free-throw attempts.

Meanwhile, Missouri had three players with double-digit scoring as sophomore forwards Jordan Wilmore, Ronnie DeGray III and junior forward Kobe Brown combined for 34 points. The trio made 12-of-20 field goals and 10-of-13 free-throws. 

Thursday’s defeat gives NIU its second-straight loss of the season after falling to the University of Indiana Hoosiers in Indiana 85-49 Friday. 

Ahead of their weekend matchup in Jacksonville, Burno emphasized the need for the team to review their mistakes and cool down with a three-day turnaround after Thursday’s game.

“We’re going to watch film and get our guys some rest,” Burno said. “That’s the only way we can right the wrong. We’re going to learn from this experience. I wanted us to get challenged and we did. We didn’t come out on the winning end the last few nights, but we’ll figure some things out.”

The Huskies will continue their road stretch against the Boston University Terriers Sunday. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. CT in University of North Florida Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.