Five players scored in double figures as the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team earned a 90-57 exhibition victory over Rockford University on Saturday evening at the NIU Convocation Center.
Redshirt junior Jordan Threloff (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb/Illinois State) scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench to pace the Huskies.
Redshirt junior Pete Rakocevic (Chicago, Ill./Wilbraham & Monson/Sacramento State) and sophomores Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) and Daveon Balls (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) each scored 11 points and freshman guard Dontel Highsmith (Dowagiac, Mich./Dowagiac) added 10 points as the Huskies shot 53.3 percent (32-of-60) from the field in the contest.
“I thought we got off to a great start,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “We started off with a 10-0 run, but then we were sleep-walking the rest of the first half. We woke them back up at halftime and outscored them 52-33 in the second half.
“What I liked about our team is that we had five guys in double figures, and J.J. Cravatta had nine, so almost six guys. For us to be a good team we are going to need multiple guys scoring in double figures. We shot a good percentage, but we still need to compete and have great energy for 40 minutes. We didn’t quite have that tonight, but it is a good start and we are looking forward to the opener on Friday.”
NIU jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the contest. Bowie had a half-dozen of the opening 13 and Balls added five early on for the Huskies.
The first half lead reached as large as 18, 23-5, for NIU before a 14-3 burst for the Regents cut the lead back to just seven, 26-19, with 5:43 to play in the first half.
A pair of free throws from Zach Wallace trimmed the NIU lead to just six, 30-24, before the Huskies closed the half with an 8-0 spurt in the final two-and-a-half minutes to take a 38-24 lead into the intermission.
Balls and Highsmith each had eight points in the opening 20 minutes to pace the Huskies. Leading by 11, 53-42, NIU used a 15-0 run to push its advantage to 26, 68-42, midway through the second half. Sophomore Cravatta (Streator, Ill./Streator Township) scored five points during the run, he finished just shy of double figures with nine points in 12 minutes.
Bowie grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Huskies in that category, Balls dished out a team-high five assists while Highsmith and freshman Aaric Armstead (Chicago, Ill./La Jolla Prep) each had three steals to lead NIU.
The Huskies open the 2013-14 regular season on Friday night, Nov. 8, when they host Nebraska Omaha at the NIU Convocation Center at 7 p.m. Tickets for the 2013-14 NIU men’s basketball season are available, with season ticket plans starting as low as $86. For more information or to purchase season tickets call the NIU Athletic Ticket Office at 815-753-PACK (7225).
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.