Trailing by one at halftime, Ohio used a quick 16-4 burst to open the second half to go on to claim a 65-46 victory over the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team on Saturday evening at the NIU Convocation Center.
“I thought it was an evenly-played game in the first half,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I thought we came out and jumped on them; we had a seven-point lead. They are a very good team. I told our guys before the game that it was going to be a game of runs. We still withstood their run and had a one-point lead.
“It seemed like we were a step slow in the second half. You have to credit OU; they made some tough shots and got out in transition. We just didn’t have enough gas in us to get the second stops or make some baskets.”
Ohio (13-4, 3-1 MAC) took an early 5-1 lead in the contest, but NIU responded with a 13-2 burst to take a 14-7 lead, its largest of the contest, with 8:59 left in the first half. Aaron Armstead scored seven of his 12 during the run, which was capped by a pull-up jumper from senior Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker), forcing an Ohio timeout.
Following the timeout, the Bobcats answered with a 7-1 run, cutting the Huskie advantage to one, 15-14, with 6:31 to play before the intermission.
NIU (7-9, 1-3 MAC) pushed the lead back to five, 21-16, with a triple and an old-fashioned three-point play from Baker, but Ohio pulled back within one, 24-23, at the intermission.
Baker led all scorers with 10 in the opening 20 minutes. Ohio shot 50 percent (10-of-20) in the first half, holding NIU to just 33.3 percent (8-of-24), but the Huskies grabbed seven offensive rebounds and went to the free-throw line 11 times to just one offensive rebound and two free throw attempts for Ohio.
The Bobcats raced out of the intermission, using a 16-4 run to quickly take a 39-28 lead, three-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
Ohio stayed hot the entire second half, shooting 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the field, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from three in the second 20 minutes. Nick Kellogg scored 11 of his game-high 16 after the intermission for the Bobcats.
Maurice Ndour joined Kellogg in double figures for Ohio, posting 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
NIU will return to action on Wednesday night, Jan. 22, when it travels to Toledo for its first game against a MAC West foe. Game time against the Rockets is scheduled for 6 p.m.