OXFORD, Ohio – The Northern Illinois men’s basketball team fell 84-72 on Wednesday night at Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks led by six at the half and used a 14-0 run early in the second stanza to build a lead that was too much for the Huskies to overcome.
Senior guard Xavier Silas scored a team-high 14 points for NIU; it was the first time in eight games Silas has been held below 20 points. Senior guard Jeremy Landers scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds while junior forward Tyler Storm netted a season-high 10 points.
“Our guys battled hard,” said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. “We had a critical turnover at the end of the first half and they made a three to go up by six and from there we were playing from behind. But our guys never stopped battling. We just didn’t make shots, we had some good looks at times but they just didn’t fall tonight.”
Miami shot 52.6 percent (30-of-57) for the contest and made 10 three-pointers. NIU shot 44.3 percent (27-of-61) but just 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from three. The RedHawks out-rebounded the Huskies, 37-27.
A 14-2 run helped Miami build a 17-5 lead in the opening five-and-a-half minutes of the contest, the RedHawks started the game 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point line. NIU answered with seven-straight points by senior guard Michael Patton to trim the Miami advantage to 17-12 with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half.
Patton, staring for an injured Bryan Hall, finished with a season-high nine points.
Silas added a basket and junior forward Tim Toler knocked down a triple from the corner to extend the NIU run to 12-0 and tie the contest, 17-17.
The Miami advantage was 31-30 when the RedHawks used a 6-0 burst to push their lead to seven with 2:37 to play before the half, Storm ended the Miami run with a triple from the top of the key.
A triple by junior guard DeMarcus Grady and a pair of free throws by junior forward Lee Fisher cut the Miami lead to one, 39-38, with 51 seconds left, but the RedHawks made a pair of free throws and hit a triple at the buzzer to take a 44-38 lead into the half.
Allen Roberts led all scorers with 15 points for Miami at the intermission; Patton led NIU with nine points in the first half. Miami shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) in the opening 20 minutes, including 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from beyond the three-point line. The Huskies shot 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from the field in the opening stanza, 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from three.
After Silas netted the first basket of the second half, Miami used a 7-0 run to push its lead to double digits, 51-40, forcing a NIU timeout.
Following the timeout, the Miami run reached 14-0 until a layup by freshman forward Nate Rucker ended the run with 15 minutes to play in the half and the RedHawks leading, 58-42.
NIU was unable to cut into the Miami advantage until the final three minutes when the Huskies scored the final seven points of the contest.
Roberts led five Miami players in double figures with 23. Julian Mavunga scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Nick Winbush added 14 points, Orlando Williams netted 13 and Chris McHenry chipped in 12 points for the RedHawks.
NIU will return home on Saturday, Feb. 12, when it begins a four-game homestand against Kent State. Game time against the Golden Flashes is set for 3 p.m., prior to the game Northern Illinois will hold its annual HASF Kickoff beginning at 1 p.m.
For more information about NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.