Men’s basketball ends season with victory on senior night

The Huskies beat the higher seeded Ohio University Bobcats 58-57 Friday.


Khavon Thomas | Northern Star

Senior guard Trendon Hankerson goes for a wide open layup on Dec. 2 at the Convocation Center against EIU. Hankerson’s 16 points helped NIU snap a five-game losing streak.

By Jordan Radloff

DeKALB — The NIU men’s basketball team ended their season with an upset victory over the Ohio University Bobcats on Senior Night Friday. The end of the close battle was a nailbiter as Ohio missed a game-winning buzzer beater, resulting in a 58-57 win for the Huskies.

Senior guard Trendon Hankerson and sophomore guard Keshawn Williams led the team in scoring with 15 points each in the game.

How it happened

The Huskies started off Senior Night strong and looked evenly matched against the higher seeded Bobcats. NIU continued their resilience and held a tight lead throughout most of the game, despite being charged with 21 fouls over the 12 called for Ohio University. The team had to adjust to the absence of junior guard Kaleb Thornton who was injured during a game against Kent State Tuesday.

NIU accelerated to a 10-point lead near the end of the first half after senior guard Anthony Crump stole the ball from the Bobcats and scored a breakaway 3-pointer.

The lead was narrowed and overtaken in the beginning of the second half by Ohio University players Mark Sears and Ben Vander Plas, who posted a combined total of 16 free throws made as a result of NIU’s numerous fouls.

The Huskies regained the lead halfway through the second half when senior guard Trendon Hankerson made two free throws following freshman guard Zion Russell’s game-tying score.

The matchup came down to the wire as both teams started to play keep-away to wind down the clock with just a one point score difference. NIU was unable to score in their last possession of the ball which left the fate of the game in the hands of Ohio University’s Sears. Despite the tense ending, the Huskies were able to celebrate a win to end their season after the missed buzzer beater.

Thoughts from Coach Burno

Head men’s basketball coach Rashon Burno reflected on how his first season coaching the team showed many opportunities for improvement and growth.

“We’ve changed the narrative of the program from a perception standpoint on and off of the court and especially in the classroom,” Burno said. “These guys have had a heck of a year. It was obviously step one in a long journey.”

Burno said he is looking forward to building off of the foundation of the team next season.

“We’ve learned a lot and we are going to take a lot of time to watch film, break down where guys need to continue to improve and skill development,” Burno said. “The one thing that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is the quality of the young men in our program.”

The end result

NIU’s 2022 overall season record is 9-21 and they ended with a 6-14 MAC record. The team bid farewell to graduating seniors Trendon Hankerson, Chinedu Kingsley Okanu, Zool Kueth and Adong Makuoi, who were all honored with video tributes for Senior Night.