The Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead via a Stevie Taylor 3-pointer from the left corner on the team's first possession. After several possessions and trading buckets, Aaron Armstead nailed a trey to put NIU up one by a score of 6-5. The Huskies fought for the better part of the first half to maintain that slim lead. Ohio was able to knot things up at 21 with just over three minutes remaining in the half, but the Huskies wrestled the lead back just before the teams headed to the lockers.
Trailing at the half 24-23, the Bobcats found themselves in a situation similar to what they have experienced in MAC games against Kent State, Akron and Ball State. These games all started out slow, sloppy, and low-scoring. To be fair, the opponent in each of these contests has gotten out to similarly slow starts, so take that how you will.
Northern Illinois is no stranger to these low scoring games, having won a 45-36 decision over Bowling Green on Jan. 12. The Huskies just were not able to contain a determined Bobcats squad in the second half.
Ohio shot out of the gates with an 11-2 run to start the half, with T.J. Hall accounting for six of those points. The margin steadily widened as the half moved on. Hall netted eight points on the evening and added four assists.
Armstead hit two free throws to reduce the Ohio lead to 10 once more. It was then that Northern Illinois went as cold as the Polar Vortex, as Ohio jumped all over the bewildered Huskies, who surrendered a 15-0 run over the course of nearly nine minutes until they finally scored once more at the 3:47 mark. The damage was done though, and Ohio was set to pull out a second straight dominating second-half performance for a win.
With Ohio's successes came the obligatory Northern Illinois failures. The Huskies struggled to find good looking shots, instead settling for non-creative and half-hearted jump shots.
The Huskies shot a putrid 29.2% from the field while going 4-18 from beyond the arc. NIU did not create many opportunities for each other on the offensive end, as the team only recorded four assists. Armstead and Travon Baker led the Huskies with 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Bobcats picked up nice contributions from Antonio Campbell who has seen his minutes increase as of late. The freshman big put up six points and six rebounds. Javarez "Bean" Willis, who to many has fallen far short of expectations in the 2013-2014 campaign, hit three trey's to account for nine points.
Ohio managed to hit 10-for-19 on 3-pointers, and shot 52.1 percent from the field on the evening.
The Bobcats moved to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the MAC with the win. Ohio takes on a struggling Bowling Green squad in Athens, Ohio on Wednesday at 7 p.m..
Northern Illinois fell to 7-9, and 1-3 in the MAC. The Huskies travel to Toledo for a showdown with the Rockets on Wednesday at 6 p.m..