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Western Michigan Broncos vs Northern Illinois Huskies men's basketball recap: Huskies win 76-67

A big first half by the Huskies gives Northern Illinois an easy win over the Broncos. Aaric Armstead and Marin Maric pace the Huskies while Thomas Wilder gets 17 on 22 shots.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon in DeKalb, Illinois the Northern Illinois Huskies defeated the Western Michigan Broncos in a MAC West rematch. The Broncos defeated the Huskies earlier in the season when Travon Baker and three other Huskies we're ejected after a flagrant foul by Baker on a Broncos player. The Huskies bench was huge in this one as the trio of Laytwan Porter, Chuks Iroegbu and Levi Bradley had 25 points on 11-14 from the field.

Thomas Wilder tried to do everything he could to bring Western Michigan back after a 19-point halftime deficit. Wilder struggled from the field and was without a three point field goal for the second game in a row. After Seth Dugan made a layup at the 10:31 mark of the first half the Huskies went on a 29-10 run to close the half. Armstead contributed 11 points in the run and it keyed the Huskies to take a big halftime lead.

At the 11:47 mark of the second half the Huskies increased their lead to a 58-31 lead their biggest lead of the game. The game seemed very much in hand at this point but Western Michigan didn't go away. The Broncos went on a 28-10 run of their own to claw back to within nine with only a minute left. The run was keyed by Wilder contributing eight points and Bryce Johnson contributing seven points of his own.

It wasn't all bad for Western as while Wilder registered 17 points, five rebounds, six assists and six steals to only three turnovers. Tucker Haymond also had a nice game as the guard had 12 points and five rebounds in the contest.

The big difference was the Huskies defense as they limited the Broncos to 38 percent from the field while Northern shot 53 percent. It was their 18th time this season they allowed 70 or fewer points to their opponent this year. The Huskies are 16-2 in those contests and it seems to be the key to their success. In relation to their overall record they are 3-7 when allowing 71+ points which showcases the importance of their defense and limiting second chance points.

These last games will be very important for NIU as they could be finish from the 3 seed to the 9 seed in the MAC tournament. The Huskies travel to Eastern Michigan on Tuesday while Western Michigan plays Toledo at home before closing out the season with CMU on the road.