Eastern Michigan used a 22-6 run to close the game to defeat the Northern Illinois men’s basketball team, 48-45, on Wednesday night at the EMU Convocation Center.
Freshman wing Abdel Nader (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) scored a team-high 10 points and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and junior guard Tony Nixon (South Holland, Ill./Seton Academy) also scored 10 points but its wasn’t enough to hold off the Eagles.
“Our guys competed to the end, unfortunately, we got cold late in the ballgame and they made enough plays to win the game,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery.
“Most of the plays they made were at the free throw line, they shot 24 and we shot 15. Unfortunately we couldn’t make a few more baskets. We made our run and then Eastern Michigan made their run, but their run decided the game.”
Trailing by three in the early going, Nixon knocked down a triple from the corner and sophomore guard Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) made a fast break layup to give NIU its first lead, 9-7, midway through the first half.
The lead swung back to Eastern Michigan, 15-13; until a jumper by redshirt sophomore guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) and a dunk by Nader gave the lead back to NIU, 17-15, with 5:48 remaining in the opening stanza.
A pair of free throws by Nixon put the Huskies back up by a pair, 22-20, before a basket by Darrell Lampley evened the game at 22 heading into the half.
Lampsey and Derek Thompson each had eight points at the break for Eastern Michigan; Nixon led NIU with seven in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite the considerable size advantage for Eastern Michigan, the Huskies outscored the Eagles 12-6 in the paint in the first half while also holding a 20-14 rebounding edge.
The Huskies opened the second half with a 14-2 run, taking a 36-24 lead with 14:35 to play.
Bolin made the first basket of the half, Nader followed with a pair and Nixon and Christian capped the run with back-to-back trifectas.
Eastern Michigan made its first field goal of the second half with 12:29 to play, but Christian answered with a triple, giving NIU a 39-26 lead with 11:49 left.
The Eagles then used an 8-0 run to cut the NIU lead to just five, 39-34, with 8:11 to play. Eastern Michigan’s run reached 15-0, giving the Eagles a 41-39 lead, its first of the second half, with just over three minutes to play in the contest.
Eastern Michigan pushed its lead to as many as four, 47-43, with 11 seconds remaining. Nader then made a pair from the charity stripe to cut the lead in half.
After Eastern Michigan split a pair at the line with four seconds to go, NIU had a look at a desperation triple to tie the game, but the shot wouldn’t go and Eastern Michigan held on for the comeback win.
Lampley led all scorers with 21 points for the Eagles.
NIU will conclude its three-game road trip Sunday, Feb. 26, when the Huskies travel to Mt. Pleasant, Mich., to face Central Michigan. Game time against the Chippewas is scheduled for 1 p.m.
For more information on NIU basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.