Buffalo scored the opening 16 points of the contest and went on to claim a 67-46 victory over Northern Illinois men’s basketball team Wednesday night in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams at Alumni Arena.
Sophomore wing Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) scored a team-high 13 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds as the Huskies pulled back to within four, but were never able to completely close the gap.
“I liked the fight we displayed went we went down 16-0,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “We were only down 24-20 at halftime and we had a chance, but we just didn’t defend well enough in the second half. Maybe we ran out of gas, and the start didn’t help us, but we were still within striking distance at halftime.”
Buffalo (7-4, 1-0 MAC) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the opening four minutes of the contest. The Bulls pushed the run to 16-0 to open the contest before a free throw from redshirt junior Jordan Threloff (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb/Illinois State) and a basket by senior Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) got the Huskie offense started.
Once the Huskies found their legs, a 20-8 close to the first half brought NIU back within four, 24-20, at the intermission.
Baskets from Bowie and Threloff pulled NIU (6-7, 0-1 MAC) within five, 22-17, with just under two minutes to play and three free throws from junior Aaron Armstead (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan/San Jose City College) in the final five seconds, off of two Buffalo technical fouls, helped the Huskies get within four at the intermission, the closest they had been since the opening minute.
Bowie paced the Huskies with five points in the opening 20 minutes as NIU went 9-of-12 (75 percent) from the charity stripe. Shannon Evans had nine to lead Buffalo, who shot just 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from the line. Buffalo had just two players make field goals in the opening stanza.
Buffalo started the second half red-hot from three-point range, making four of its first five triple tries to extend its lead to 38-27 in the first five minutes of the second half.
After the Buffalo lead reached 14, a basket by Bowie and a pair of free throws from freshman Aaric Armstead (Chicago, Ill./La Jolla Prep) brought the Huskies back within 10, 42-32, with 11:39 to play, but the Bulls answered with the next six, including another triple, to thwart the comeback attempt.
The Bulls shot 61.9 percent (13-of-21) from the field in the second 20 minutes, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, and also shot 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the free-throw line.
Four players scored in double figures for Buffalo, led by 15 points from Will Regan. Javon McCrea added 14 points and eight rebounds, Evans had 11 points and Joshua Freelove chipped in 10 points.
The Huskies will return to the road on Sunday, Jan. 12, when they travel to Bowling Green, Ohio for a date with the Bowling Green Falcons. Game time is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. CT.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.