NIU’s Noah McCarty only scored six points all game but none were bigger than his layup with just .6 seconds remaining.
The #14 Buffalo Bulls clawed their way back from a ten-point deficit in the second half and tied the Northern Illinois Huskies at 75 apiece when C.J. Massenburg nailed a nearly 30-foot three pointer with 6.4 seconds remaining.
But the Huskies would strike one last time. Trendon Hankerson took the ball down the court and, as he got double-teamed, he was able to find a wide open McCarty cutting to the basket. Hankerson delivered a perfect pass to McCarty, who layed the ball in with just .6 seconds remaining, giving the Northern Illinois Huskies a slim 77-75 lead.
The Bulls launched a Hail Mary pass on the inbound play but it fell short, into a Huskie player’s hands, giving NIU one of their biggest wins in school history.
It’s just the Huskies third win against an AP top-25 opponent, and their first since February of 1973 when they upset #19 Oral Roberts! The Huskies are now 3-32 against top-25 teams.
Buffalo now drops to 17-2 (5-1 MAC) and into second place in the MAC East while Northern Illinois is now 11-8 (4-2 MAC) and sits atop the MAC West.
Buffalo had built an eight point lead midway through the first half but NIU chipped away and, by halftime the Huskies had managed a six-point lead. In the second half, the game was a back-and-forth affair. Twice Northern built a 10-point lead but the Bulls would come right back and, at one point, even had a six point lead of their own.
Half of Buffalo’s shots were three-point attempts but UB had a hard time finding baskets, shooting a dismal 36.7% (22-60 over all and just 9-30 from behind the arc), while NIU hit 50% of their shots and was able to out-rebound the Bulls 40-37, especially on the defensive side of things. The Huskies had 37 defensive rebounds to Buffalo’s 28 defensive rebounds.
Northern’s Dante Thorpe and Buffalo’s Massenburg led all scorers with 23 points each. And, before fouling out, Eugene German had a double-double for NIU with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Up next, the Bulls will travel to Kent, Ohio to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes this Friday (1/25) night. The Huskies will also head to Ohio when they face the Akron Zips Saturday (1/26) afternoon.
Massenburg: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Nick Perkins: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Jeremy Harris: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Thorpe: 23 points, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 rebound
German: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Nate McCarty: 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist
FG Percentage: Buff - 36.7% (22/60); NIU - 50% (27/54)
Rebounds: Buff - 37; NIU - 40
FT Percentage: Buff - 71% (22/31); NIU - 79.2% (19/24)
3-point Percentage: Buff - 30% (9/30); NIU - 30.8% (4/13)
Turnovers: Buff - 17; NIU - 18