DEKALB, Ill.– Despite 15 points from redshirt sophomore guard Jason Carter, the Ohio men's basketball team (11-9, 3-5 MAC) was unable to overcome late three-pointers from Northern Illinois (12-9, 5-3 MAC), falling to the Huskies, 71-60, Tuesday evening (Jan. 29) inside the NIU Convocation Center.
"Both times we played them there have been shooting number woes," fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "At our place it was free throws. I thought a huge bulk of our shots tonight were well generated. I can't think how many time we had a shot to go up three or four and reversed the ball well and then other times we tried to penetrate. But someone has to step up and hit those shots."
Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) finished the game with 15 points, going 6-of-15 form the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line, while also grabbing six rebounds. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) finished with 10 points, going 3-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 form the free throw line. He also grabbed six rebounds. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) finished with eight points, while senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) finished with seven points and six rebounds.
NIU would open the game with a 6-0 run, before Carter would go on the get the Bobcats first six points, tying the game at 6-6 with 16 minutes left in the first half. The Huskies would then hit a three to take a 9-3 lead, but junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb Miss.) would hit a three to match it, tying the game at 9-9. NIU would go on to take a seven-point lead with 10:15 left in the half before a rebound and a fast break layup from freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) would bring the score to 19-14. After the Huskies got another basket, Cowart, Jr. would drain a three to bring the Bobcats within four with 8:36 to go in the half.
A Kirk layup and a Taylor dunk would tie the game at 21-21, however, NIU would go on to get four quick points to take a 25-21 lead. After two free throws from Block cut the lead to 25-23, a three from Richie Austin would put the Huskies up five with 4:07 to go in the half. Ohio would go on to tie the game at 28-28, but an NIU free throw would put the Huskies up one with 1:41 to go. Redshirt sophomore guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) would then drain a three-point basket, giving the Bobcats their first lead of the night. The Huskies would go on to tie the game at 31-31 and the Bobcats would be unable to get the last basket, sending the game to the half with it knotted at 31-31.
At the half, the Bobcats and Huskies both shot 43.0 percent from the field, while Ohio shot 30.0 percent from the free throw line and 67.0 percent from the free throw line. NIU finished the half shooting 33.0 percent from three and 50.0 percent from the free throw line. The Bobcats out-rebounded the Huskies, 19-17, with Ohio dishing out seven assists to NIU's eight. Ohio also scored 18 points in the paint, while NIU scored 16.
NIU would get the Huskies on the board first in the second half, but Carter would follow that up with a field goal of his own to tie it back up at 33-33. Then, without making a field goal over four minutes, the Bobcats would hit a number of free throws to go on to take a 39-37 lead after Carter drained two with 13 minutes left. Ohio and NIU would go on to continue to trade baskets until Ohio would take the lead back with 7:51 left, going up 48-47.
NIU's Dante Thorpe would hit a three, sparking a 10-1 run for the Huskies, giving them a 59-51 lead with 4:47 left in the game. Block would stop the run, draining a three, however, NIU would come back with one of their own, taking a 62-54 lead with 3:33 left in the game. The Huskies would go up 10 before Preston drained a three-pointer to bring the Bobcats within seven. A layup from redshirt freshman Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) would bring the Bobcats within eight with 31 seconds left. However, the is as close as Ohio would get, falling 71-60 to the Huskies.
Overall, Ohio shot 35.7 percent from the field, 19.2 percent from three-point range and 68.2 percent from the free throw line, while NIU shot 43.4 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three-point range and 86.4 percent from the free throw line. Bother teams grabbed 36 rebounds, while NIU dished out 15 assists to Ohio's nine. Ohio grabbed four steals to NIU's three, with the Bobcats and Huskies both scoring 30 points in the paint.
For NIU, Thorpe finished the game with 20 points, going 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from three-point range. Eugene German scored 15 points and dished out six assists, while Levi Bradley scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for NIU.
Up next, the Bobcats return to Athens on Saturday, Feb. 2 when Ohio hosts Akron. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. and is a part of the Convocation Center's 50thAnniversary celebration doubleheader, which will begin at 1 p.m. when the Ohio women's basketball team takes on Ball State. Tickets are $5 to all fans and Red Panda will perform at halftime of the men's game.