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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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Marshawn Wilson drops 19 points in the 77-57 loss to the Gophers.

NCAA Basketball: Northern Illinois at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Tough times just got tougher for the Northern Illinois Huskies (4-5) as they took one on the chin Sunday afternoon as they fell at the hands of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. NIU struggled mightily on the offensive end all game as the team shot 37.3% from the field while Minnesota was able to knock down 41.4% of their shots. Gophers Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch each recorded double-doubles as Murphy had 12 points and ten rebounds while Lynch tallied 18 points and 11 boards.

Northern Illinois hung in there with Minnesota in the first half and had an opportunity to take the lead after a Marshawn Wilson layup cut the deficit to 24-21 with 1:54 left in the half, but a technical foul on Wilson gave the Gophers free throws as the home team coasted into the half with a 29-23 lead. UM dominated the boards with a 27-17 rebounding advantage in the opening 20 minutes, and there was a significant free throw disparity as Minnesota had the edge 9-12 shooting from the line to NIU’s 1-3.

The second half was more of the same offensive ineptitude that haunted the Huskies all game as they never really threatened the Gophers’ lead as the home team continued their domination on the glass with a 21-11 rebounding edge in the half. NIU’s starters went 5-21 from the field in the last 20 minutes, but Wilson was effective off the bench with 13 points from 4-7 shooting, two three-pointers, and a perfect 3-3 effort from the charity stripe.

Going forward, Northern Illinois has to do a better job rebounding as losing the battle on the boards by 20 isn’t good at any level of basketball. Ball movement needs to improve as well as over half of NIU’s made baskets were unassisted, meaning the team was taking unnecessary, contested shots. The good news is that the Huskies were +2 in the turnover margin, so credit to the defense for doing its job.

NIU returns to DeKalb Wednesday to square off against Olivet Nazarene at 7 p.m.