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NIU drops second-straight heartbreaker

January 22, 2011

Xavier Silas

Xavier Silas led the Huskies with 23 points and six rebounds in NIU's 82-80 setback at Western Michigan on Saturday

Matt Stainbrook tipped in an offensive rebound with less than a second to play as the Northern Illinois men’s basketball team fell, 82-80, to Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon at University Arena. The Huskies made the initial defensive stop on the play and nearly forced overtime but were unable to keep the 6-foot-9 Stainbrook from tapping home the decisive basket.

Senior guard Xavier Silas led NIU with a game-high 23 points and a team-best six rebounds. Junior forward Tim Toler added 18 points, including four three-pointers, and senior guard Jeremy Landers chipped in 12 points as NIU’s last two defeats have come by a combined four points.

The loss was the Huskies’ second-straight two-point setback on the road. NIU dropped a 66-64 decision to Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant on Thursday night.

“It was a great game from a fan’s standpoint,” said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. “It went back-and-forth, give Western (Michigan) credit, they battled back and did a nice job of taking the lead. Then our guys did a nice job of tying the ballgame but unfortunately we couldn’t get a last stop to go into overtime.”

Western Michigan overcame in a six-point halftime deficit in the contest with with 62.1 percent (18-of-29) shooting in the second half; the Broncos shot 54.5 percent (30-of-55) overall in the game. The Huskies were 52.5 percent (31-of-59) from the field in the contest.

“I think this team is very, very close,” said Patton. “This team has shown the ability to play some very good basketball. We aren’t taking our eyes off the prize, there is a lot of season still to play.”

The Huskies trailed 80-76 with less than a minute to play when junior forward Lee Fisher went to the free throw line for NIU.  Fisher made the first, missed the second, but the Huskies grabbed an offensive rebound and Silas buried a three with 16 seconds to play, tying the game 80-80.

Western Michigan came down and called a timeout with eight seconds to play to draw up a final play. Demetrius Ward drove to the basket and missed the shot, but Stainbrook was there to give the Broncos the two-point win.

Stainbrook led five Broncos in double figures with 18 points. Ward and Whitfield each added 15 while Alex Wolf came off the bench to add 14 and Nate Hutcheson scored 13 points.

The Huskies will return home to the NIU Convocation Center on Wednesday, Jan. 26, when they host Akron. Game time against the Zips is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be shown live on SportsTime Ohio and, and on tape delay on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.