Down 15 in the second half, the NIU men's basketball team pulled to within one late at Ball State but fell to the Cardinals, 63-59, on Tuesday.
The Huskies used a 20-6 run over a 7 minute, 33 second stretch in the second half to pull within 57-56 with 2:46 left after Eugene German hit one of two free throws.
“The positive is it was an unbelievable comeback, but you have to finish,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “(Ball State) made an incredible shot to extend (the lead) to four (in the final minute) … It was a valiant effort, we knew the game was going to be like this, it was hard-fought by both teams and it is always like that when we play Ball State.”
The Huskies (15-10 overall, 8-4 MAC) had a chance to take the lead, but German had a layup blocked by Jarron Coleman with 2:20 left, Lacey James missed a layup and Eugene German missed a 3-pointer all after NIU stops on the defensive end.
Finally, Ishmael El-Amin broke through with a 3-pointer to push the lead up to four with 26 seconds left to seal the deal.
German finished with 18 points and Zaire Mateen and Tyler Cochran each scored 10 for the Huskies. El-Amin scored a game high 22 for the Cardinals (14-10, 7-4). James had a team-best eight rebounds for NIU while Coleman and Brachen Hazen each had nine boards for Ball State.
Ball Sate scored the first nine points in the contest and never trailed.
NIU shot 7.7 percent on 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game 6 of 26 (23.1 percent). The Huskies outscored the Cardinals in the paint, 34-16, including a dunk by Lacey James to start the scoring for NIU with 13:33 left in the first half, cutting the score 9-2 at that point.