CHARLESTON, Ill.— Five players posted double-digit points as the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team shot 61.7 percent (29 of 47) from the field, including 56 percent (14 of 25) from three-point range in a 90-70 win over Eastern Illinois on Wednesday night (November 30) at the Lantz Arena.
Keshawn Williams (Chicago Heights, Illinois/Tulsa) led by 17 points, Zarique Nutter (Newark, NJ/Clarendon College) and David Coit (Columbus, NJ/Atlantic Cape CC) scored 16 points each Caleb Thornton (Bolingbrook, Illinois/Iowa Western CC) and Darweshi hunter (Cincinnati, Ohio/Weber State) both scored 10 points.
The Huskies led by six at the break but retreated defensively after the break, holding the Panthers at 36.4 percent (12 of 33), including 18.2 percent (2 of 11) from three, in the second half their way to a 20-point victory.
“Our attitude early in the game wasn’t what we needed, especially on the road,” said NIU head coach Rashon Burno. “I didn’t like how we came out but we have to give our boys credit for going in with a half-time lead and coming out in the first four minutes (the second half) and playing properly.”
After Eastern Illinois led by three points early on, NIU used a 7-1 burst to take a three-point lead of their own 13-10, with 13-51 to play in the first half.
After a basket from the Panthers Yanic Konan Niederhauser (Fraschels, Switzerland/Ursping), who saw his first action of the season, scored the next five, including a three-pointer from the top of the key as NIU went 18-12 ahead. Eastern Illinois scored the next four to draw within a pair, but Thornton and Williams responded with triples as the Huskie advantage increased to eight, 24-16, just past the middle of the opening stanza.
Niederhauser finished a perfect 3-of-3 from the field with seven points. Thornton and Coit each recorded five assists in the competition for the Huskies.
The NIU lead was still an eight after a three-pointer from Coit, but Eastern Illinois scored the next seven to reduce the Huskie advantage to 32-31, with 3:42 to play before halftime.
Eastern Illinois equaled at 36 until NIU closed the half with a six-point burst on buckets from Niederhauser, Hunter and a put-back jam from Williams in the dying seconds as the Huskies went 42-36 into the went on break.
Williams led all scorers with 12 first-half points, Dan Luers scored nine to speed up the Panthers. NIU shot 65.2 percent (15 of 23) in the first half, including 50 percent (8 of 16) from three. Eastern Illinois shot 61.5 percent (16 of 26) in the first 20 minutes, including 3 of 6 from three-point range.
A bucket from Nutter and an old-fashioned three-pointer play from Williams early in the second half gave the Huskies a 47-36 lead. With NIU by a dozen, Coit hit a three-pointer, ninth of the contest for the Huskies, and Nutter landed on the sidelines to put NIU 56-39 ahead with 15:55 to go, forcing a timeout in eastern Illinois.
Still with a dozen in front Armandas Plintauskas (Kedainiai, Lithuania) paired off the line and Coit hit another three to extend the Huskie advantage to 70-53 just midway through the second half.
Coit went 5-of-7 from within three-point range in the contest.
A corner triple by Hunter set off a 10-0 Huskie run. Williams finished an alley-oop, Nutter converted an old-fashioned three-point play and Harvin Ibarguen (Cali, Colombia/Seward County CC) scored as NIU took an 84-59 lead and never looked back.
Caleb Donaldson was the only double-figure player for Eastern Illinois, scoring 15 points and giving out six assists.
Next up for the Huskies is a trip to Moscow, Idaho to face off against Idaho on Friday, December 2nd. Game time against the Vandals is scheduled for 8pm CT.