Huskies can't find the net in loss to Western Michigan
DeKALB – Saturday's game against Western Michigan was a new low for Northern Illinois.
The Huskies couldn't buy a basket.
Western Michigan would leave DeKalb with a 71-34 win, and the 34 points the Huskies (3-13, 1-3 MAC) scored were a season-low. NIU's previous low in points was 43, and came Dec. 1 at Dayton, a game when the Huskies scored just five points in the first half.
"Western Michigan came in and just punched us right in the face," were the first words out of NIU coach Mark Montgomery's mouth in his postgame press conference.
NIU shot just 20 percent (11 of 55) and went just 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) from three-point range.
"It's definitely disappointing. I think we're not sharing the ball," Montgomery said. "We're not playing the right way. We don't have enough player and ball movement."
Offensive struggles have been a theme all season for NIU. Still, the Huskies allowed the Broncos (10-7, 2-2 MAC) to shoot 54.3 percent (19 of 35) from the field, and 50 percent (7-for-14) from beyond the arc. Western Michigan was paced by David Brown, who scored 13 points.
"You have to be able to man up and guard someone on the defensive end," Montgomery said. "When someone comes in your building and shoots 55 percent, you are not playing your hardest. You're getting out-toughed. That just can't happen."
Montgomery said Western Michigan was just stronger, tougher and showed more physicality. The Broncos outrebounded the Huskies, 42-27, and Montgomery mentioned how the Broncos kept getting second and third shots.
"You see our guys getting pushed around," Montgomery said. "It's the biggest key going into the game, and we didn't do what it took. We just got manhandled."
Kevin Gray led the Huskies with 13 points after going 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Reserve guard J.J. Cravatta added six points, thanks to two threes at the end of the first half, and Abdel Nader finished with five.
Cravatta is someone who averaged just 8.7 minutes per game coming into Saturday, but he had a season-high 23 in the loss, just one game after he got 16 minutes of time in Wednesday's defeat at Ohio.
"As time goes on you get a little more confidence," he said. "... Overall I'm just a spot shooter, so the guards did a good job hitting me in stride. Got to give credit to them."
NIU will attempt to snap its three-game losing streak Wednesday at Central Michigan.
When it comes to getting going offensively, Montomery said it was going to be fixed at Sunday's practice.
"That is going to get corrected tomorrow morning," he said. "We want five guys that want to play together."