Freshman guard Mike Davis (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights) scored a team-best nine points as Northern Illinois fell to Eastern Michigan, 53-41, on Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.
Freshman wing Darrell Bowie (Milwaukee, Wis./La Jolla Prep) added eight points and six rebounds and freshman guard Travon Baker (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Consortium) also added eight points. Sophomore wing Abdel Nader (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
"Eastern Michigan is a tough team to get behind against because they work the clock and control the ball," said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "I thought we had some chances early in the second half to get back in the game, but it just seemed like we couldn't get going.
"I thought are guys played hard but the ball has to go in the basket. We only had 42 shots so you have to make every possession count and, unfortunately, our offense didn't show up in the second half.
After a triple from Baker evened the game at 5-5, Eastern Michigan used an 8-0 run to take a 13-5 lead with 11:58 to play in the first half, forcing a Huskie timeout. Following the timeout, redshirt junior guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) knocked down a trifecta to cut the Eagle lead to five, 13-8.
The Eagles pushed their lead back to eight until another Christian triple and a pair of free throws from Baker brought NIU back within three, 16-13, with 8:47 to play in the half.
Northern Illinois (5-21, 3-10 MAC) stayed within three until a triple and a pair of free throws by Derek Thompson extended the Eastern Michigan advantage to eight, 25-17, with 4:38 left before the intermission. Eastern Michigan's lead grew to as much as 11, but a layup by Davis 25 seconds before the break helped NIU pull within eight, 30-22, at the half.
Christian and Nader each had six points to lead the Huskies in the opening 20 minutes, Nader also pulled down six rebounds in the first stanza. Thompson paced the Eagles with 11 points before the break.
Eastern Michigan (13-15, 6-7 MAC) scored six of the first seven points out of the intermission to push its lead to 13, 36-23, with 15:15 to play. The Huskies cut the lead back to 10 on a free throw by Bowie and a bucket by Davis, but were unable to pull any closer.
Glenn Bryant and Thompson each scored 14 points to lead the Eagles. Eastern Michigan outscored NIU 20-6 in the paint.
Northern Illinois will return to action on Saturday, March 2, when the Huskies host Central Michigan in the final home game of the regular season. Tip-off against the Chippewas is scheduled for 7 p.m., and will be preceded by the 2013 Football Kickoff.
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