DeKALB – Eugene German took care of things in the first half for the Northern Illinois basketball team. Dante Thorpe and Levi Bradley had big second halves, and the result was 20-point win in the season opener.
The trio combined for 63 points as the Huskies beat Green Bay, 85-65, in the season opener for both teams Tuesday at the Convocation Center.
“I feel like we played with a lot of energy today,” German said. “We rebounded the ball pretty good, we played good defense and we stuck together. If we keep playing like that, we’ll have a great season.”
Thorpe finished with 14 points, Bradley had a game-high 28 points, German had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Lacey James had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. James and Thorpe were making their debuts for the Huskies.
For Thorpe, all of his points came during a pair of big runs that helped stem rallies by Green Bay.
“I thought we came out strong in the first half,” coach Mark Montgomery said. “The ball was moving well, and we had multiple players scoring the basketball. I thought we played hard and came out with great energy, especially for the first game. ... All in all, I was very satisfied with the effort.”
The Huskies’ 13-point halftime lead had dissipated to 46-42 with 15:50 left, but Thorpe scored the next five points. After the Phoenix got to within two, the Huskies went on a 14-5 run, with 10 points coming from Bradley, to grow the lead to 65-54.
“I feel like that’s the time leadership comes in,” German said of the Huskies holding off repeated runs by the Phoenix, who led for less than three minutes in the game. “You can’t panic. You’ve got to keep sticking together and take care of the ball.”
Green Bay struggled throughout the first half, managing only a 14-1 run over a 3:07 span for an early 17-12 lead. NIU regained control with a 12-0 run, with Thorpe scoring nine of those points, including the last six.
German had 16 points and seven boards at halftime, but was kept in check in the second half by the Phoenix. That opened up Thorpe and Bradley for bigger second halves.
“I just came out with a lot of energy in the first half,” German said. “In the second half, they were really crowding on me, so I had to get my teammates involved.”
Bradley scored 22 points in the second half, and Lacey scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
“We don’t look at this like you take this many shots, I take this many,” Bradley said. “We just try to get it to whoever has the hot hand and try to make the right play.”
The Huskies improved to 6-24 all time against Green Bay and snapped a 12-game losing steak against the Phoenix. NIU is back in action Thursday against St. Francis in a game that was postponed Friday because of condensation on the court at the Convocation Center.