Huskies’ woes against Bowling Green persist

Men’s basketball drops to 10th place in Mid-American Conference standings


Zulfiqar Ahmed

Junior guard Kaleb Thornton (left) makes a drive down the court against the Bowling Green Falcons in a 92-83 loss on Jan. 18 at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. NIU proceeded to lose its second matchup with BGSU Saturday, falling on the road 87-65 in Bowling Green. (Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star)

DeKALB — The men’s basketball team battled hard, but could not overcome an early first half deficit against the Bowling Green State University Falcons Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Huskies lost big by a score of 87-75 and pushed its losing streak against the Falcons to six straight.

Both offenses got off to a sluggish start to the game, with only a combined five made baskets in the first five minutes of play between the teams. BGSU had an early 6-4 lead before its offense finally snapped out of its bad play, using an 8-0 run in 1:30 span to force an NIU timeout.

BGSU kept it rolling coming out the timeout when fifth-year guard Daeqwon Plowden made a 3-point field-goal while being fouled by junior guard Kaleb Thornton. Plowden made the free-throw to give BGSU a 16-6 lead. The Falcons lead grew to as big as 15 points by the 7:18 mark before the Huskies started to pick it up on the offensive end.

NIU started to drive the ball more as sophomore guard Keshawn Williams was able to make a couple of layups and get to the foul line, scoring six straight points for the Huskies to cut the lead to 31-19 with 3:38 left in the half.

With BGSU more focused on the paint, the offense finally started to open up, creating wide open 3-point opportunities that senior guard Trendon Hankerson took full advantage of.

Hankerson was on fire from the 3-point line, making four straight over the final 3:13 to cut the Falcons lead down to 35-31, which impressed head coach Rashon Burno considering the sloppy play of the offense.

“We had a lot of guys who weren’t able to make plays in the first half and Trendon did a good job of saving us.” Burno said.

The second half was a huge letdown for the Huskies, with the team completely breaking down on defense multiple times. NIU allowed the Falcons to shoot an insanely efficient 53.8% from the field in the second half.

BGSU was able to get many wide open looks from all over the court. Graduate senior forward and last season’s Mid-American Conference Sixth Man of the Year Trey Diggs was the recipient of many of those looks. Diggs made five threes in the second half and finished with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting from three.

Burno identified the Huskies defensive pressure as the problem for Diggs’ big second half.

“Our ball screen coverage was horrible,” Burno said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of impacting the ball and he was able to turn the corner to get us in rotation.”

The Falcons lead grew to as big as 26 in the second half as the Huskies offensive struggles crept back up. NIU shot a lowly 31% in the second half, including 3-for-16 shooting from the three point range.

With the loss, the Huskies have dropped to 6-14 overall and 3-7 in the Mid-American Conference, moving them down to 10th. BGSU currently sits 8th, not moving in the standings but was able to go over .500 on the season with a 12-11 record overall, 5-7 in conference.

The Huskies will look to bounce back next week with back-to-back home games against the number two and three-ranked teams in the MAC. NIU will take on the University of Akron Zips at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The game will be available on ESPN3.