Freshman forward Sam Mader (Appleton, Wis./Appleton East) scored a team-high 15 points but Northern Illinois dropped a 58-46 decision to UIC on Tuesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.
The Huskies pulled within five midway through the second half until a 10-2 UIC run helped propel the Flames to the victory.
“UIC got off to a quick start in both halves so we were always playing from behind,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I thought coming in we had to limit their big four and those four all scored in double figures. I thought that our guys played hard but we need to get the ball to go in the basket to have a little more confidence. Unfortunately we only shot 32 percent and UIC made some plays.”
Led by Mader’s 15, the NIU bench outscored UIC’s 28-4 but the Flames held a 17-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Tied at five in the early going, UIC used a quick 7-0 burst to take a 12-5 advantage with 13:47 to play in the first half, forcing a NIU timeout. The Flames run reached 8-0 before back-to-back baskets by freshman guard Mike Davis (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights) cut the UIC lead to four, 13-9.
UIC answered with a seven-point burst to take a 20-9 lead with just under six minutes to play in the half. Mader scored the next four points for NIU to pull the UIC lead back to seven, 20-13.
NIU pulled within five, 22-17, until five quick points by the Flames doubled the advantage. Freshman wing Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) hit a 15-foot jumper as time expired in the half to bring NIU within eight, 27-19, at the break.
Mader led NIU with six points in the opening 20 minutes. Daniel Barnes scored eight and grabbed six rebounds to lead UIC. The Huskies shot 30.8 percent (8-of-26) in the first half while the Flames shot 36.7 percent (11-of-30).
The Flames scored the first six points out of the intermission to take a 33-19 lead. Bowie stopped the UIC run and Mader followed with a triple from the top of the key to end the UIC burst.
Bowie finished with a season-high six points and four rebounds.
NIU pulled within five, 38-33; on a layup by sophomore forward Kevin Gray (Chicago, Ill./Brooks Academy) with 11:10 to play in the half. Gray’s layup capped an 8-2 run for the Huskies, ignited by triples from junior guard Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) and senior guard Tony Nixon (South Holland, Ill./Seton Academy).
A 10-2 run by the Flames pushed the lead back out to 13 with 6:48 to play. Mader scored four quick points to keep the Huskies within striking distance, but UIC made 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Huskies.
Hayden Humes led UIC with a game-high 18 points. Barnes added 11 while Josh Crittle and Gary Talton each chipped in 10 points for the Flames.
The Huskies will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 1, when they travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.