Kent State hit a 30-foot triple in the final minute of regulation and went on to earn a 73-64 over the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.
Junior Aaron Armstead (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan/San Jose City College) recorded his first career double-double with a team-high 15 points and a career-best 10 rebounds to lead NIU.
“It was a game of runs,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery.
“We came out very strong in the first half; they made a surge and tied it up at halftime. In the second half we had unbelieveable energy out of the locker room, built another big lead of 10-plus points and then we stopped executing and Kent State started to make plays.
“Credit Kent State, they are a good team, they battled back. You just would have liked to have closed the game out. We were up by three with 40 seconds to go, maybe one possession away from winning the game and credit Manley; he hit a 30-foot bomb. They had the momentum in the overtime and one too many turnovers on our end probably cost us the game.”
Tied at 52 with over five minutes to play in regulation, Kris Brewer hit a jumper for the Golden Flashes to give Kent State a two-point edge. NIU (7-8, 1-2 MAC) reclaimed the lead on a triple by senior Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) with 3:20 left in regulation.
A pair of free throws by freshman Aaric Armstead (Chicago, Ill./La Jolla Prep) with just over two minutes left put the Huskies ahead by three. Both teams then split a pair of free throws as NIU continued to hold a three-point edge going into the final minute.
With 39 seconds left in regulation, Devareaux Manley knocked down a 30-foot three-pointer to even the game at 58.
Holding for the last shot of regulation, Kent State forced NIU into a shot clock violation and the game went to overtime. Kent State (11-5, 2-1 MAC) scored the first seven points to begin the extra session and went on to claim the nine-point win.
Sophomore Travon Baker (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Consortium) scored 13 points and Aaric Armstead added a career-best 12 points for the Huskies.
Brewer led the Golden Flashes with 25 points; Derek Jackson added 14 and Manley chipped in 10.
NIU got off to a good start early in the contest, leading by nine, 15-6, just over five-and-a-half minutes into the game. The Huskie lead grew to 11 just before the midway point of the half before a quick 9-2 burst for the Golden Flashes cut the lead back to four, 24-20.
Kent State continued it comeback and took a two-point lead, 27-25, with 2:41 to play in the opening half as the Huskies and Golden Flashes ultimately went to the intermission tied, 30-30.
A 14-4 burst out of the locker room gave NIU a 44-34 lead with 13:47 to play in regulation. Aaron Armstead had five quick points in the second half, Baker had four and sophomore Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) had four to help the Huskies rebuild a double-digit lead.
Bowie finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Huskies pushed the lead to as much as 13, 49-36, before, just as they had in the first half, the Golden Flashes made another run. The 16-3 run by Kent State, capped by a triple from Brewer, evened the contest at 52 with just under six minutes left.
“You could say they deserved to win the game,” said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. “Mark (Montgomery) has his kids playing really hard and really well. I want to be sure to give Mark, his team and his staff credit because he’s got his kids playing hard.
“I have a ton of respect for how his team is playing. They are shorthanded; he’s done a great job. I’m thankful that we were able to find a way to get out of here with the win.”
NIU will return to action Saturday, Jan. 18, when the Huskies host the Ohio Bobcats at the NIU Convocation Center. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.