NIU overcame shooting troubles to grind out a 64-57 win at Ball State to secure the 7-seed and a home game to start Mid-American Conference tournament play Monday against Ohio (14-16 overall, 6-10 in MAC) at 8 p.m. after the women's game.
The Huskies (15-16, 8-10), struggled to a sub-30 percent shooting performance in the first half, but rode Levi Bradley's hot hand in an important late-game stretch.
Bradley scored a game-high 22 points and fueled NIU's 9-0 run that put the Huskies up 54-45 with 3:44 left in the contest.
The Cardinals (15-16, 6-12), dropped to the 11-seed and will play Toledo to start the MAC tournament.
Ball State's Trey Moses laid the ball in to cut BSU's deficit to one early about seven minutes into the second half before Eugene German scored four quick points including a breakaway dunk for a 39-34 lead, only for Ball State to tie the game back at 41-41 and later at 45-45. NIU had overcome an early 18-4 deficit.
Noah McCarty recorded a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. German added 15 point and five steals. Dante Thorpe posted 13 points.
Tahjai Teague led the Cardinals with 16 points and Tayler Persons added 14 points. Moses put up a stat line of 16 rebounds, five points, five assists, two steal and five blocks.
Perfect game for Frenz: Northern Illinois senior Alex Frenz pitched five innings of four-strikeout ball on her way to a perfect game as the Huskies defeated Idaho State 9-0 in the first game of Friday's Husky Classic.
Dominique Greeno, Abby Howlett and Katie Keller each drove in two runs apiece. Keller had two doubles, and Anne Allen blasted a solo home run in the Huskie win.
NIU drops game at SIU: Northern Illinois couldn't get its offense going in a 3-1 loss at Southern Illinois Friday.
Erik Hedmark took the pitching loss for the Huskies (2-10) despite surrendering just one earned run in seven innings pitched. He struck out four.
NIU cut into the Salukis' 2-0 lead with a run in the seventh when Connor Montgomery drove in Jake Dunham with a single.