Three Huskies scored in double figures, led by 14 points from redshirt junior Jordan Threloff (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb/Illinois State) but the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team dropped a 62-54 decision Saturday night at Rhodes Arena.
Akron (17-8, 9-3 MAC) shot 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from the field in the first half and then held the Huskies to just 30.8 percent shooting (8-of-26) in the second half.
“I thought both teams battled,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “It was an even first half, the difference was Demetrius Treadwell. He had six offensive rebounds in the second half, it gave them opportunities to get fouled or make easy baskets, and we just didn’t have an answer for Treadwell.
“We battled hard; this is a tough place to win. We had three guys in double figures and I thought that we had our chances. We were down four with about eight to go, but we missed some free throws and a couple of layups and those opportunities could have pulled us closer.”
NIU (11-13, 5-7 MAC) jumped out to an early lead, 11-4, using a 9-0 burst to take the seven-point lead in the opening five minutes. Aaric Armstead had a pair of baskets during the run, including a triple from the wing, as the Huskies claimed the advantage in the early going.
Six-straight points from Akron trimmed the lead to one, 11-10, but five consecutive points from junior Aaron Armstead (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan/San Jose City College), including a corner trifecta, pushed the lead back to six with 10:55 left in the opening half.
Aaron Armstead finished with seven points
A triple and a layup by Baker again pushed the NIU lead to six, 23-17, with just under six minutes to play in the half. Akron answered with the next nine, five of which came from the free-throw line, as the Zips took a 26-23 lead.
The Akron lead was four, 28-24, until Baker drained a trifecta just before the halftime buzzer, cutting the Zips lead to just one at the intermission.
The Huskies and Zips traded the opening four baskets of the second half, but a triple from Carmelo Betancourt and a fastbreak layup by Quincy Diggs pushed the Akron lead to seven, 38-31, forcing a NIU timeout.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Threloff cut the Akron lead to just three, 40-37. The Huskies were within two, 43-41, after a put-back by sophomore Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) with 9:34 to play. Bowie scored seven points, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and had seven steals for the Huskies.
Akron scored the next six, but Threloff responded with four-straight from the line as Akron led 49-45 with 7:33 to go. The Zips then used a 6-0 burst to push their advantage to double figures, 55-45. NIU would pull back within six in the final minute, but it wasn’t enough as Akron moved to 10-1 overall at home.
Demetrius Treadwell scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Zips; he was the only player in double figures for Akron.
The Huskies will return home Thursday, Feb. 20, when they host Eastern Michigan at the NIU Convocation Center. Game time against the Eagles is scheduled for 6 p.m., one hour earlier than the originally listed start time, and will be televised live on CSN Chicago.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.