Bradley Powers Huskies Past Kent State in MAC Opener

By Published: 1/3/2018 6:52:24 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Northern Illinois Athletics

DEKALB, Ill. – Junior Levi Bradley (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI) scored 25 points, tied a career-high with 14 rebounds and tied a career-best with four assists to help lead the Northern Illinois University men's basketball team to a 75-61 victory over Kent State in the conference opener on Tuesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.

Sophomore Eugene German (Gary, Ind./21st Century Charter) added 20 points and seven rebounds while junior Dante Thorpe (Washington, D.C./Triton College) chipped in 17 points as the Huskies topped the defending MAC Tournament champions.

Bradley's 25 points included a perfect 14-of-14 at the free-throw line, the second-best single game in school history behind a 15-of-15 performance from Xavier Silas on Jan. 9, 2010 against Ball State. Bradley's double-double was his second of the season and sixth of his career.

After being tied on the glass, 20-20, at halftime, NIU finished with a 42-32 edge in rebounding. The Huskies shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field in the second half and went 23-of-26 (88.5 percent) from the free-throw line as a team in the contest.

"Unbelievable fight on both ends and a typical NIU-Kent State game, it comes down to the last five or six minutes, nothing different tonight" said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "I thought our defense was unbelievably solid from the seven-minute mark on. We had some players step up and make big plays, starting with Levi Bradley with a double-double. (Dante) Thorpe, even though he was in foul trouble, had 17 points and Eugene German had 20.

"We are getting accustomed to our big three taking care of the offense, but we had some other guys that stepped up and made plays. You might not see it in the scoring column, but individual defense, rebounding, doing things to help this team win, was huge."

A basket by Desmond Ridenour gave Kent State a three-point lead, 51-48, with 11:10 left, but it would be the last field goal the Golden Flashes would make for nearly seven minutes as the Huskies built a 10-point lead.

Back-to-back buckets from Thorpe moved the Huskies in front just past the midway point of the half, with the 14th, and final, lead change of the night. A free throw by German and a free throw by junior Lacey James (Grand Rapids, Mich./Rider) pushed the NIU lead to three, but Kent State used two free throws of their own to claw back within one.

NIU (8-6, 1-0 MAC) then used an 8-0 run, capped by a James bucket off a dish from German and a pair of free throws by James, to take a 62-53 lead with just over six minutes left.

James finished with six points, five rebounds and five steals.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Kevin Zabo with 4:29 left, Kent State's first field goal since the 11:10 mark, cut the NIU advantage back to seven, but German answered right back with a triple, sparking an 8-0 Huskie run that included a jumper from Bradley and a three-point play from German to put the game out of reach.

Jaylin Walker scored 18 points to pace the Golden Flashes; Zabo added 17 points.

Kent State (6-8, 0-1 MAC) claimed an early 6-2 lead in the contest and built a lead as large as five in the opening 10 minutes. Back-to-back trifectas from German and Thorpe, both assisted by Bradley, put the Huskies in front for the first time, 16-15.

The Golden Flashes reclaimed the lead and went up by a half-dozen, 30-24, with just under three minutes left until the intermission, but a 6-2 burst by the Huskies brought NIU back within a pair and an old-fashioned three-point play by German with four seconds left in the half gave NIU a 33-32 lead at the break.

NIU will hit the road for its next two conference contests, traveling to Ohio on Saturday, Jan. 6 and Bowling Green on Tuesday, Jan. 9. The Huskies will return home on Saturday, Jan. 13 when they host Eastern Michigan. Tickets are on sale now through the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center, by calling 815-753-PACK (7225) or online at NIUHuskies.com. Reserved lower bowl seats are just $10 while general admission is available for $8.
Published: 1/3/2018 6:52:24 AM Custom Tag