DEKALB, Ill. — Freshman wing Abdel Nader (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) scored a team-high 14 points but the Northern Illinois men’s basketball team fell, 62-49, to Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Convocation Center.
Sophomore guard Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) nearly recorded a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing a career-best 12 rebounds. Senior forward Tim Toler (Indianapolis, Ind./Avon/Danville Area CC) added 12 points.
“It was a tough game,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I thought our guys did a great job of fighting back, down eight at halftime. Unfortunately we just could not get over the hump. I thought we did a great job of rebounding the basketball and we got to the free-throw line, but we committed too many turnovers. We just couldn’t hold on to the basketball or get the key stops when we needed to.”
Southern Illinois shot 42.2 percent (19-of-45) from the field while holding NIU to 29.2 percent (14-of-48) shooting. The Salukis outscored the Huskies 25-8 off of turnovers.
SIU scored the first four points of the contest before a Toler triple from the corner and an old-fashioned three-point play by freshman forward Keith Gray (Chicago, Ill./Brooks Academy) gave the Huskies a 6-4 lead with 16:14 to play in the first half.
Nader scored the next five for the Huskies and the teams traded baskets until the Salukis took a 15-11 advantage. A basket by Bolin and a pair of free throws from Nader tied the game, 15-15, at the midway point of the half.
With the Huskies leading, 18-16, Southern Illinois went on a 10-0 run to take a 26-18 lead with 3:48 to play before the intermission.
NIU trimmed the Saluki lead back to five, 28-23, until Kendal Brown-Surles ended the first half with a three-pointer, giving SIU a 31-23 lead at the break.
Brown-Surles led all scorers with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes; Nader led the Huskies with nine. Southern Illinois shot 40.7 percent (11-of-27) in the first half while Northern Illinois was held to 28 percent (7-of-25) shooting.
A 10-0 Huskie run early in the second half tied the score, 35-35. Nader opened the run with a basket, he later added a triple and redshirt sophomore Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) capped the run with a jumper from the short corner with 13:54 left in the second half.
Southern Illinois responded to the Huskie run with an 8-0 burst of its own, giving the Salukis a 43-35 lead with 11 minutes to play, forcing an NIU timeout. The Saluki run reached 17-0 as SIU took a 52-35 lead with just over seven minutes to play.
Brown-Surles led SIU with 19 points and five steals. Jeff Early chipped in 13 points and Mamadou Seck grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds.
NIU will play its final game of the 2011 calendar year on Tuesday, Dec. 20, when the Huskies host Valparaiso at the NIU Convocation Center. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.