Senior Anthony Johnson (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young/Purdue) led the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team with a career-high 21 points Wednesday night, but the Huskies were unable to overcome 50 percent shooting by Buffalo, falling to the Bulls, 82-63, at Alumni Arena.
Sophomore guard Aaric Armstead (Chicago, Ill./La Jolla Prep) added 16 points in the loss.
Buffalo (11-4, 2-1 MAC) scored 30 points off of 16 NIU turnovers while the Huskies were only able to force six Buffalo miscues, turning them into 11 points. The Bulls went 18-of-28 from the free-throw line; NIU was just 9-of-15 from the charity stripe. NIU played without leading scorer Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) for the third consecutive game due to injury.
“Give Buffalo credit, they outperformed us,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I didn’t like our energy, I didn’t like the way we took care of the ball. When you are down by 21 at halftime there isn’t a lot to like, we just have to get back to work the next two days in practice.”
A triple by Johnson gave NIU a 13-12 lead just before the midway point of the first half until an 11-0 run, including three consecutive threes by Jarryn Skeete, gave Buffalo a 23-13 advantage with 7:37 to play in the first half.
A basket by Aaric Armstead stopped the run, but Buffalo scored the next six to push its lead to 29-15 with 5:41 left before the intermission.
Buffalo closed the first half with an 11-2 run as the Bulls took a 42-21 lead into the break. Buffalo shot 51.7 percent (15-of-29) in the first half while holding NIU to just 26.7 percent shooting (8-of-30). Skeete and Justin Moss led all scorers with nine points in the opening 20 minutes for Buffalo; Johnson scored seven to pace the Huskies.
NIU (7-7, 1-2 MAC) trimmed the Buffalo lead to 14 in the second half, 55-41, using a 13-5 burst to pull within striking distance with 12:47 left. Aaric Armstead scored five during the burst and redshirt freshman Marin Maric (La Lumiere School/Split, Croatia) added four.
Marin finished with eight points and a game-high tying nine rebounds.
Buffalo responded with a 12-2 run of its own to push the lead to 24, 67-43, just past the midway point of the second half and never looked back
Moss led five Bulls in double figures with 18 points; Skeete added 14, Shannon Evans had 13, Rodell Wigginton chipped in 12 and Lamonte Bearden scored 11 points.
The Huskies will be on the road again Saturday, Jan. 17, as they travel to Ypsilanti, Mich., to face the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.