Last Second Heroics Lift Huskies Past Ball State

By Published: 3/3/2018 8:49:28 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Northern Illinois Athletics

DEKALB, Ill. -- Sophomore Eugene German (Gary, Ind./21st Century Charter) hit a pull-up jumper with 12.4 seconds left as the Northern Illinois University men's basketball team finished the regular season with a dramatic, 66-65 victory over Ball State on Friday night at the NIU Convocation Center.

German's game-winner capped a game-high 25-point night, junior Levi Bradley (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI) finished with 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for his seventh career double-double. Junior Dante Thorpe (Washington, D.C./Triton College) added 11 points.

"What a game," said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "I thought we played an incredible first half. It seemed like it took so much energy that we couldn't get going in the second half. Credit Ball State, they went on and unbelievable run, then you have to give the credit back to our guys because we found a way to will ourselves to the win."

NIU (13-18, 6-12 MAC) dominated the boards in the contest, outrebounding Ball State, 49-35. The Huskies tallied 19 second chance points to just four for the Cardinals.

After NIU led by eight at the half, Ball State scored the first 15 to open the second half as the Cardinals took a 44-37 lead. Bradley scored to end the run and ignite a 7-2 burst by NIU that brought the Huskies back within a pair, 46-44, with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Ball State (19-12, 10-8) pushed its lead back to a half-dozen, 56-50, with a little less than six minutes to play.

The Huskies and Cardinals traded free throws before NIU made four-straight at the stripe to trim the Cardinal lead to a pair, 58-56, with 3:43 to go. Ball State then scored the next three as the lead ballooned back to five, 61-56.

With just over two minutes remaining, German found Thorpe in the corner for a triple as NIU pulled back within two. Once again, Ball State had an answer as the Cardinal scored four-straight to lead again by a half-dozen, 65-59, with 1:33 left.

On the next possession, Thorpe converted an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the Ball State lead in half. The Huskies then got a defensive stop and German scored at the rim with 33 seconds to play as NIU pulled within one, 65-64.

NIU fouled to extend the game with 27 seconds left and Ball State missed a pair from the line, giving the ball back to the Huskies, down just one. The Huskies called a timeout with 22.8 seconds left and, following the timeout, German went around a screen and pulled up from just inside the three-point line, rattling home a basket to give the Huskies a one-point lead.

Ball State raced up the floor and put up a shot from near the three-point line as time expired, but the shot came up short as the Huskies prevailed in the final home game of the season.

Tayler Persons scored 23 points to lead Ball State, Tahjai Teague added 14 points.

A basket by Bradley and a tip-in by junior Anastasios Demogerontas (Orland Park, Ill./Moraine Valley CC) helped give the Huskies a three-point advantage, 11-8, in the opening six minutes of the contest.

Ball State answered with a 10-2 burst as the Cardinals moved in front by five, 18-13. German scored the next eight as NIU went back ahead by three, 21-18, with just over eight minutes to play in the opening half.

The Huskie run reached 10-0 on a basket by Bradley and the NIU lead grew to eight, 33-25, with a little under four minutes to play in the opening half as German knocked down a trio of trifectas to help extend the lead.

Bradley scored off an offensive rebound with a little over two minutes to play before halftime to give NIU a 10-point lead, its largest of the half, but Ball State trimmed the Huskie advantage back to eight, 37-29, at the intermission.

NIU will now await Saturday's result in the final Mid-American Conference regular season game between Central Michigan and Western Michigan to determine its opponent for Monday's (March 5) MAC Tournament First Round. A Western Michigan victory would send the Huskies to Ball State while a Central Michigan win would see the Huskies travel to Kent State.
Published: 3/3/2018 8:49:28 AM Custom Tag