The Northern Illinois Huskies rebounded after a tough loss this past Saturday in Kalamazoo defeating the Chippewas 75-70. The Huskies were led by Marin Maric, Travon Baker returning after being ejected Saturday night and surprise contributor Levi Bradley. It wasn't all good for the Huskies as they struggled early with defense and shooting putting themselves in an early hole. A sluggish start to this game as the Chippewas used a 23-7 run to gather a 33-20 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half.
The Huskies of the past decade I would have imagined would have faltered at this point and it would have been a 20 point loss rather than a five point win. A key six point stretch by Bradley and Baker with back to back three pointers closed the gap to seven points. Although the lead expanded throughout the remainder of the half it showed that NIU was not going to give up. To close the half the Huskies went on a 14-8 run which doesn't seem like much but it made it a single digit lead at the half. Rayshawn Simmons played a huge role in Central Michigan's lead with 10 points and two assists.
It was a game of two halves as Northern broke out the second half on an 8-0 run which turned a deficit into a one point lead. It was due to great defense forcing two turnovers and making three layups and a jumper by Maric and Baker. At the 13 minute mark NIU was up by one and Marshawn Wilson took over. He made seven points in a two minute stretch and really gave Northern breathing room. Then a stretch of no scoring hit Northern Illinois for a period of three minutes. Central Michigan cashed in on this opportunity with an 8-0 run of their own and was led by Luke Meyer pulling the Chippewas close once again.
At the five minute mark the Chippewas clawed even closer to tie the game at 62 to put some doubt in the Huskies mind. Baker and Maric as they have done all season erased that doubt over the final four minutes of the game. The duo scored 9 of the last 13 points for the Huskies. The Chippewas had a tough stretch of their own after tying the game at 64 they wouldn't score until there was 14 seconds left in the game. They used two three pointers in the last 14 seconds to pull the game within in five. Unfortunately they ran out of time and Northern Illinois had gotten their 12th home victory of the season.
The Huskies play on national television against Toledo on Friday night on CBS Sports Network at 5:30 pm Eastern. This is a rematch of earlier in the season where the Huskies used a late run to defeat the Rockets 71-66 on the road. CMU has a home game against Ohio a telling game for both schools who now each sit at 2-3 in the MAC.