Central Michigan's Kevin McCay was the recipient of likely the easiest pass and layup he's had all season, taking a Devontae Lane assist for an easy make to put the Chippewas ahead of Northern Illinois with 0.2 seconds to go by the final margin of 68-67 on Tuesday.
CMU (9-6, 2-0 in Mid-American Conference) defended its home court and stayed undefeated in Mount Pleasant this season (9-0).
Neither Noah McCarty nor Lacey James took McCay on defense for the last possession, leading to the easy layup, while Zaire Mateen's missed free throw with 9.1 seconds remaining gave the Chippewas the ball down a point.
Eugene German scored 20 points and dished out four assists to lead the Huskies (8-7, 1-1 MAC). James had 14 points and seven rebounds. McCay scored a game-high 21 points, DiLeo scored 12 and Lane had 11 for the Chippewas.
Central Michigan whittled down a 12-point Huskies lead down to two when DiLeo sank a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:56 remaining in the second half, as NIU led 63-61.
CMU had a shot to take the lead, but Lane missed the open shot. The ball caromed off the rim and Trendon Hankerson dished ahead to Eugene German for an open layup and a 65-61 NIU lead with 1:15 remaining.
David DiLeo made two free throws to cut NIU's lead down to two, and after a Noah McCarty missed 3-pointer, the Chippewas had a chance to tie with DiLeo's running floater, but Lacey James grabbed the board.
Trendon Hankerson went to the charity stripe following the foul, and sank both, only for Lane to make an and-one hoop on the other end to pull the Chippewas back within one, 67-66, with 9.1 seconds left.
Mateen missed the ensuing one-and-one free throw opportunity.
NIU led by as much as seven in the first half before the Chippewas clawed back and took the lead 33-32.
The Huskies responded with two McCarty free throws and a Mateen jumper for a 36-33 Huskies lead at halftime.
The Huskies scored 18 of their first 24 points in the paint on their way to a 24-20 lead at the under-8 media timeout (7:13).
The Huskies held Central Michigan to 2 of 9 shooting from behind the 3-point line in the first half and 5 of 22 for the game.