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Western Michigan Broncos vs Northern Illinois Huskies men's basketball recap: NIU heads to Cleveland

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Northern gets their fifth MAC tourney win since 1998. Travon Baker and Andrew Zelis lead the Huskies to their 18th home victory of the season.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In a tightly contested contest, the Huskies of DeKalb pulled out a 57-50 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos to earn their second trip to Cleveland in three years. This season had it's ups and downs, but the Huskies put it together tonight without Marin Maric once again. Maric earlier in the day was named third team All-MAC but sat out with his injured ankle.

The Huskies used three opening triples by Travon Baker and Aaric Armstead to open up a 9-2 lead over the Broncos. The game was back and forth for much of the first half, as no team led by more than five points after that early seven point lead. After the Broncos were able to grab the lead towards the end of the half, it took two free throws from Baker to give the Huskies a one point lead at halftime.

Both teams struggled out of the gate in the second half as it took nearly four minutes for someone to score. The Huskies used four made field goals to go from a 32-31 deficit to a 39-32 lead. At this point, a seven point lead looked like Northern was going to pull away. However, Tucker Haymond and Drake LaMont made sure that it wasn't going to be a blowout and put the Broncos back in the game.

The game was tied at 42 all with 5:35 left and it looked like it could go either way. The senior Baker responded with one of the biggest shots of the game a three pointer from the top of the circle. It took three more minutes for the next shot to be made but once again it was Baker with a jumper to give the Huskies a 49-45 lead. The Huskies were 1-for-1 from the field before Baker made the jumper to give them a four point lead. Haymond gave it everything he had, willing the Broncos to within three but Levi Bradley made four clutch free throws to give the Huskies the win.

The absence of Thomas Wilder throughout this game really hurt the Broncos. He went 0 for 6 from the field and did not play the final 26 minutes of the game. After the game, it was announced that Wilder had re-aggravated a turf toe injury in the first half, and could not continue to play.

It has been a special season for the Huskies, with 21 wins for only the fourth time in school history. They also went 18-1 at home, resembling some of their football dominance from when they won 20+ games in a row before losing to CMU in 2014. Mark Montgomery has taken a program who had five victories in each of it's first two seasons back to Cleveland. As #MACtion continues to happen, who knows where the Huskies will finish, but it's been a pleasure thus far and hopefully more to come in the future.