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Bobcats Suffer First MAC Loss at NIU, 64-59

Jan. 17, 2006

Final Stats

DeKalb, Ill. - After staying within a few points of each other for most of the game, Northern Illinois used a 14-2 run midway through the second half to take a lead it would never relinquish on the way to 64-59 win over the Ohio men's basketball team Tuesday.

The Bobcats (10-3, 4-1 Mid-American Conference) fall for the first time in MAC play and the first time overall since late December.

The game was tied at the half and after trailing by double digits in the second half, Ohio cut the Northern Illinois lead down to three in the final minute of play. Ohio couldn't get over the hump, though, and the Huskies (9-5, 4-2 MAC) converted enough from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the home victory.

Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) led a struggling Ohio offense Tuesday. Green hit 4-of-7 three-point attempts and 9-of-10 free throws on his way to matching a career-high with 25 points. Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.) kicked in 12 off the bench and Jeremy Fears (Joliet, Ill.) accounted for eight.

Northern Illinois' Ben Rand led the Huskies with 19 points. Todd Peterson hit for 12.

Both teams were relatively cold from the field Tuesday. The Huskies shot 31 percent from the floor, while Ohio hit just 32 percent of its shots from the field.

"That's the nature of this game sometimes, especially when you're playing on the road," said Bobcat Head Coach Tim O'Shea. "I thought our effort was good. We played hard tonight. We just couldn't get the ball to stay down in the basket."

A pair of teams that entered the night hovering around 70 points per game finished the first half tied at 27 apiece. For the Bobcats, it was their second-lowest output for a first half this season.

Still, playing on the road, Ohio was able to do enough to keep itself in the ballgame.

Green led the way with 11 points for Ohio, while Northern's Rand led all scorers with 15. Ohio's leading scorer Leon Williams (Baltimore, Md.) was held scoreless in the half, and he wouldn't get into the scoring column until the 7:32 mark of the second period.

The Bobcats struggled from the floor, shooting just 32.1 percent in the first half. The Bobcats' defense, however, kept them in the game.

"I thought our defense was exceptional early," O'Shea said. "We really were just missing shots. We just couldn't get the ball to stay down."

Ohio held the Huskies scoreless from the 18:05 mark until less than 13 minutes remained in the half. But, the Bobcats turned in just six points in that stretch.

Ohio continued to be stingy on the defensive end as the clock dipped into single digits in the first frame. The Bobcats used a 9-to-2 run into the 8-minute mark to take a 20-12 lead, its largest edge to that point.

Down the stretch of the half, Northern Illinois finally pulled closer. Ohio went nearly five minutes without a bucket and allowed the Huskies to take their first lead of the contest, 25-24, with little more than two minutes left in the half. The teams went to the break all knotted up at 27.

The Bobcats led early on in the second half. Northern Illinois took its most crucial run of the game, though, a 14-2 spurt from 15:17-to-10:47 that would turn into the difference in the contest. The Huskies led 50-40 at that point, though the Cats would claw back.

Ohio used a 10-3 run from 8:26 to 4:26 to draw to within three at 57-54. The Bobcats couldn't get any closer, though.

The Huskies outrebounded Ohio 41-36. Williams kicked in nine rebounds for Ohio--including five on the offensive end.

Northern Illinois converted 78 percent of its free-throw attempts, while the Bobcats countered with 70 percent.

"I told our guys that I never expected go through the MAC undefeated. We just have to do a better job making free throws and getting the ball inside to Leon," O'Shea said. "We were doing the things we wanted to do, but we just couldn't get things to fall. We play this team in Athens, so hopefully it'll be a different story."

The Cats will stay on the road and in the West Division this weekend. Ohio will make a visit to Toledo on Saturday. Tip-time in John F. Savage Hall is slated for 4:30 p.m.