Huskies use big second-half run for third straight victory
DeKALB – Northern Illinois head coach Mark Montgomery won 10 games in his first two seasons combined.
Tuesday night's 53-41 comeback win over Miami (Ohio) at the NIU Convocation Center gave the Huskies their 10th win of the 2013-14 campaign, matching their total from the past two years.
It's also the third straight victory for NIU (10-11, 4-5 MAC), and the first time the Huskies have won three straight since the 2009-10 campaign. That was also the last season NIU hit double-digit wins.
"When you start winning, your confidence grows," Montgomery said. "I think the guys come together even more. I don't think they every got rattled when we were down today."
The Huskies got off to a slow start in the first half, as Miami led 19-10 with roughly eight minutes left in the period. A layup courtesy of sophomore guard Travon Baker with 42 seconds remaining in the first brought NIU to within one point, as the teams went into the half with the RedHawks leading 27-26.
Miami (9-11, 5-4 MAC) jumped out to a 37-28 lead at the start of the second half, but that's when junior guard Aaron Armstead and the Huskies took over. Armstead would hit back-to-back threes for NIU and score eight straight points, helping the Huskies on a 15-0 run which gave NIU a 43-37 advantage.
"It started on the defensive end," Armstead said. "Once we were able to stop them and keep them at bay we got it going on the offensive end. We started moving the ball. Guys just made shots."
NIU would not trail the rest of the contest, and closed the game on a 25-4 run. Miami had just four points in the final 10 minutes of the contest.
"What I thought they did was have very good energy, and they were always competing for balls," RedHawks coach John Cooper said. "So we could never come up with clean possessions."
Armstead, Baker and senior wing Aksel Bolin each led NIU with 10 points. Junior center Pete Rakocevic added six and finished with three blocks as well.
Fellow junior center Jordan Threloff finished with 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Huskies, who host Western Michigan Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
"You have to credit Threloff and Rakocevic, they were just blocking every shot ... Miami had a hard time scoring over them," Montgomery said. "You've got to credit the defense, and that led to good offense, because we had a chance to get out in transition."