With a 19-3 run to close the first half, Toledo bettered Northern Illinois, 71-41, on Wednesday night at Savage Arena. Freshman guard Stian Berg (Baerum, Norway/Norges Toppidretts Gymnas) and freshman forward Keith Gray (Chicago, Ill./Brooks Academy) each led the Huskies with eight points.
“It’s unfortunate, we just weren’t sharp today,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery.
“I thought we played 13 good minutes, until it was 21-15, we made one more shot and then we went on a cold spell and we didn’t get stops. There aren’t many bright spots looking at the stats and after that 13 minute mark our energy and effort just wasn’t there.”
NIU shot just 30.2 percent (13-of-43) in the contest. Toledo shot 53.2 percent (25-of-47) from the field. Toledo also out-rebounded the Huskies, 32-27, marking the first time NIU has been out-rebounded in eight games.
Curtis Dennis led Toledo with 18 points. Reese Holliday added 11 and Rian Pearson had eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Neither team led by more than three in the first 10 minutes of the contest until a Toledo triple gave the Rockets a 15-11 lead midway through the first half. The trifecta was part of an 8-2 Toledo burst that gave the Rockets an 18-13 lead with 8:32 to play in the first half.
A basket by Berg cut the Toledo lead to three, but the Rockets answered with a 19-3 run to end the first half, taking a 37-18 lead into the intermission.
Toledo shot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in the opening 20 minutes while holding NIU to just 33.3 percent shooting (8-of-24). Dominique Buckley led all scorers with eight points in the first half.
In the second half the Huskies earned 20 trips to the free-throw line, but were only able to convert on 11 of those chances. Keith Gray scored all eight of his points in the second half, including a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays.
The Huskies return home to the NIU Convocation Center on Saturday, Jan. 21, when they welcome Ball State to DeKalb. Game time against the Cardinals is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday is also NIU’s annual Alumni Day celebration with the Alumni Game taking place at 4:30 p.m.