Deja Vu as Huskies down Zips

By Wes Swietek

It seemed like old times at Chick Evans Field House last night.

The Huskie’s men’s basketball team was battling Mid-Continent Conference foe Akron, assistant coach DeWayne Kelly was on the bench and the NIU defense was holding the Zips to their nickname—as in Zip points.

The difference was that Kelly (an NIU assistant last year) is now an Akron assistant coach and the Zips did finally manage to score more than 30 points (the total NIU held them to at Akron last season). The similarity was that the Huskies downed Akron 75-56.

The win moved NIU to 8-12 overall, 5-5 in the Mid-Con. Akron dropped to 11-8, 6-4 in front of 1,772 at the fieldhouse.

“After a tough ballgame the other night (a 71-55 loss to Cleveland State) … to come in here and (win) is a tribute to the ballclub,” NIU head coach Brian Hammel said.

And a tribute to their defense.

The Huskies ran out to a 10-0 lead before a Roy Coleman layup with 14:38 left finally put the Zips on the board. NIU continued to extend the advantage as Akron could not find its shooting touch.

The Huskies enjoyed their biggest lead of the half, 27-10, at the 5:49 mark as Brian Molis (team-high 20 points) converted a three-point play. The Zips didn’t break the 20-point barrier until Mark Alberts’ off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer made it 33-21 at halftime.

Unlike Saturday’s game when the Huskies squandered a 15-point halftime lead in a loss to Cleveland State, NIU stayed in control in the second half. “We played lax in the second half (against Cleveland State),” Molis said. “We didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.”

And the Huskies didn’t repeat their mistake—although they did have to suffer a comeback attempt by the Zips.

Roy Coleman (game-high 22 points) hit a three-pointer to bring Akron to within 40-35. But the Huskies went on a 10-0 run to shoot down Akron’s comeback.

“They changed defenses and tried to attack our inexperience (but) we had good discipline and balance,” Hammel said.

The games’ final minutes became a parade to the free throw line as NIU scored 15 of its last 19 points from the line.

NIU next faces conference-leading Wisconsin-Green Bay Saturday (7:05) at the fieldhouse.