Men’s hoops falls to unbeaten No. 13 Cyclones

Dontel Highsmith leads NIU with 19 points

Dontel Highsmith

Dontel Highsmith

No. 13-ranked Iowa State shot 58.7 percent (37-of-63) from the field and made 11 three-pointers en route to a 99-63 victory over the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team on Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

Freshman guard Dontel Highsmith (Dowagiac, Mich./Dowagiac) scored a game-high 19 points and also grabbed six rebounds.

Sophomore guard Travon Baker (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Consortium) scored in double figures for the third-straight game with 12 points and sophomore wing Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) just missed a double-double with eight points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

“Iowa State came out very aggressive, made some shots and that got them going,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “Our early turnovers didn’t help and the way you start is so important on the road, especially against a very, very good team.”

“They made some threes and we probably started to press a little trying to make something happen. I thought we had some good shots, we had some offensive rebounds, but we just couldn’t seem to make the put-backs.”

NIU (5-6) grabbed 24 offensive rebounds, outrebounding Iowa State 46-36, but converted those second chances into just 14 points. The Cyclones collected 22 second chance points on 10 offensive rebounds.

Iowa State (12-0) raced out to an early 14-5 lead before a layup by Bowie in transition brought the Huskies back within seven in the early going. The Cyclones answered with the next seven however, taking a 21-7 lead with 13 minutes to play in the opening half. Iowa State shot 60 percent in the opening seven minutes while holding the Huskies to just 20 percent shooting and five turnovers.

The Cyclone advantage reached 18, 28-10, before NIU found some rhythm on the offensive end.

Travon Baker

Travon Baker

A jumper in the lane to beat the shot clock by Baker, a short corner jumper from redshirt junior Pete Rakocevic (Chicago, Ill. / Wilbraham & Monson / Sacramento State) and a layup by Highsmith helped NIU cut the lead to 36-23 with 7:47 to play in the half.

Iowa State took a 55-34 lead into the intermission. Melvin Ejim led the Cyclones with 15 points in the first half; Highsmith had 13 to pace the Huskies in the opening 20 minutes. Iowa State shot 61.8 percent (21-of-34) in the opening half while holding NIU to just 33.3 percent (11-of-33) shooting.

The Huskies scored seven of the first 12 points out of the intermission, with Highsmith collecting four, but Iowa State continued it’s hot-shooting after the break, shooting 55.2 percent (16-of-29) in the second half on its way to the 36-point victory.

Ejim and Naz Long each scored 17 points to pace the Cyclones, who came into the contest ranked sixth in the nation in scoring at 87.2 points per game. DeAndre Kane added 16 points and dished out 12 assists for Iowa State, Kane also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

The Huskies will return to action Friday, Jan. 3, when they open the 2014 calendar year against Bethune-Cookman at the NIU Convocation Center. Game time against the Wildcats is scheduled for 7 p.m.

For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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