Redshirt junior Jordan Threloff’s (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb/Illinois State) tip-in with 0.8 seconds left lifted the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team to a 61-59 double overtime victory over Eastern Michigan on Thursday night at the NIU Convocation Center.
The tip-in capped a career night for Threloff who finishes with 27 points and 18 rebounds, his first career double-double.
Freshman Aaric Armstead (Chicago, Ill./La Jolla Prep) also had his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“Give both teams credit,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “It it tough to lose a double overtime game when both teams are playing their hearts out. Eastern Michigan has to have one of the best zones in the country, but I give our guys credit, they got down four in double overtime and didn’t blink. We had three or four-straight stops.
“We did an unbelievable job on the offensive glass, when you have 29 of them (offensive rebounds), and find a way to get a tip-in, I’m very, very proud of our team.”
NIU (12-13, 6-7 MAC) finished with 63 rebounds in the contest, out-rebounding the Eagles by 21, 63-42. The Huskies converted 20 second chance points to just 10 for EMU.
The Huskies and Eagles traded leads 14 times and were tied on 15 occasions in a game that neither team led by more than nine.
Eastern Michigan (15-11, 7-6 MAC) held that nine-point lead with 11:50 left in regulation after a pair of free throws from Da’Shonte Riley. A free throw by Aaric Armstead and a triple by sophomore Travon Baker (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Consortium), NIU’s only three of the night, trimmed the Eagles lead back to five, 33-28.
The Eagles pushed the lead back to a half-dozen before Threloff scored back-to-back layups to cut the lead to a pair, 36-34, with 8:26 to play. A layup by Aaric Armstead then pulled the Huskies even for the first time since early in the second half.
The lead went back to three for Eastern Michigan, 44-41, with 2:38 left, but a pair of free throws from junior Aaron Armstead (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan/San Jose City College) and another bucket from Threloff pushed the Huskies in front with 1:23 to go.
NIU still led by one, 47-46, when Riley split a pair of free throws with less than 10 seconds left in regulation. The Huskies had a look at a contested three at the buzzer, but the shot didn’t go and the game went to overtime.
In the first extra session, the Huskies jumped out to a four-point lead, 53-49, as sophomore Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) converted a layup and Threloff made four free throws. Bowie finished with six points and 12 rebounds.
Karrington Ward answered with five-straight points to put the Eagles on top, 54-53, with 2:17 to play in the extra session.
With Eastern Michigan still leading by one, 55-54, Aaric Armstead split a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds left and the game went to a second overtime, NIU’s first multiple overtime game since 2009.
The Eagles scored the first four in the second overtime, but a free throw and a layup by Aaric Armstead brought the Huskies back within one, 59-58, with less than a minute to play.
Eastern Michigan had the basketball with about a 15 second difference between the shot clock and game clock, and the Huskies came up with a rebound of a missed shot with 16 seconds to play.
Without a timeout, NIU worked the ball to Bowie who was fouled going to the basket with 6.3 seconds left in double overtime. Bowie made his first free throw to even the game, 59-59, and missed the second, but got his own rebound. Bowie went to the bucket, missed the layup, but Threloff was there with his ninth offensive rebound of the game, tipping the ball in with 0.8 seconds left.
“He played an unbelievable game tonight,” Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy said of Threloff. “Offensively, defensively consistently rebounding, consistently scoring and stepping up to the line and making his free throws. I give him a lot of credit. I think he took a step toward being a dominant big man in this league.”
Eastern Michigan tried to throw the ball into the front court but the pass was tipped away and the Huskies survived for a wild, double overtime victory.
Three Eagles scored in double figures, led by 17 points from Mike Talley. Ward finished with 13 points and Raven Lee added 10. Riley scored seven points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds for the Eagles.
NIU will return to action at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, when the Huskies travel to Mt. Pleasant to face Central Michigan. The Huskies will return to the NIU Convocation Center next Wednesday, Feb. 26, when they host Toledo.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.