The Northern Illinois men’s basketball team played even with DePaul for nearly 25 minutes on Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center before the Blue Demons pulled away for a 75-52 victory.
Senior forward Tim Toler (Indianapolis, Ind./Avon/Danville Area CC) paced the Huskies with 18 points and 13 rebounds, the third double-double of his career.
“For 25 minutes, I thought we played them toe-to-toe,” NIU head coach Mark Montgomery said. “At the first media timeout of the second half we were either up one or down one, and I thought things were going pretty good. Unfortunately, DePaul stepped their game up, we had three consecutive turnovers and we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit.”
DePaul shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field in the contest while holding NIU to 29.1 percent (16-of-55) shooting. The Blue Demons outscored the Huskies 25-6 off of turnovers.
A triple from freshman wing Abdel Nader (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) gave NIU an early 5-4 advantage until a 9-0 DePaul run put the Blue Demons on top, 13-5, with just over 13 minutes to play in the first half.
The Huskies responded with a 9-2 burst to cut the Blue Demon lead to just one, 15-14, 8:27 before the intermission. Toler scored five of the nine while sophomore forward Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) and freshman guard Marquavese Ford (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw) also added baskets.
Redshirt sophomore guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) extended the Huskies run with a pair of free throws, giving NIU a 16-15 lead. After a basket by Charles McKinney for DePaul, freshman guard Stian Berg (Baerum, Norway/Norges Toppidretts Gymnas) buried a long triple from the wing to put the Huskies in front, 19-17, with 5:44 to play before the half.
With the Huskies up by three, DePaul rattled off seven-straight to lead 28-24. Toler split a pair of free throws to conclude the scoring in the first half, giving the Blue Demons a 28-25 lead at the break.
Toler led all scorers with eight points at the intermission; Jeremiah Kelly led DePaul with seven. The Blue Demons shot 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes while the Huskies shot 28.6 percent (8-of-28).
Toler made a pair of triples and had a tip-in early in the second half to help NIU take a 33-32 lead with 16:34 to play in the second half, forcing a DePaul timeout.
Following the timeout, the Blue Demons used a 17-0 run to take a 49-33 advantage with 13:49 left in the second half.
A pair of free throws by Nader brought the Huskies back within a dozen with just over five minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get as DePaul pulled away in the game’s final minutes.
DePaul’s Brandon Young earned the Jay Goedart Memorial Most Outstanding Player Award with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Cleveland Melvin led the Blue Demons with 19 points and Jeremiah Kelley added 15 for DePaul.
The Huskies will be back in action at the NIU Convocation Center at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, as they host Southern Illinois.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.