“Thank God for the two guys with double-doubles, because we rode them,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “Marin Maric had to play with foul trouble and found a way to get a double-double, and Aaric Armstead was huge in the second half -- not just with his scoring, but his rebounding also. But it was a great team win. We got the lead, then we got punched in the face and we hung on and found a way to win by getting defensive stops.
“It was a great month of November. We finished the month 6-0 and tonight we found a way to win the game.”
Idaho jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead less than four minutes into the contest before back-to-back baskets by Armstead trimmed the Vandals lead back to four, 10-6.
A triple from freshman Laytwan Porter helped bring the Huskies within a pair, 17-15, and started a 7-2 burst that saw NIU pull even, 19-19, on a pair of free throws by Maric just past the midway point of the opening half.
The Vandals pushed their lead back to a half-dozen, 27-21, until NIU used an 8-1 run to take their first lead of the night, 29-28, with 5:23 left before the intermission. Freshman Jaylen Key opened the run with a jumper from the short corner, junior Michael Orris added a wing triple, Armstead made a pair from the line and freshman Marshawn Wilson added one from the charity stripe to put the Huskies in front.
Idaho went back in front by three, 32-29, but a pair of free throws from Maric and another triple from Orris gave the Huskies a 34-32 lead at the break.
Orris finished the contest with nine points on three triples.
The Huskies opened the second half with the first two baskets as senior Travon Baker fed Maric and Armstead and the NIU lead grew to a half-dozen, 38-32.
Baker tallied a game-high six assists, with no turnovers, along with four points and three steals.
Wilson, freshman Levi Bradley and Porter all connected on triples for the Huskies as NIU pushed its lead out to nine, 47-38, with just over 12 minutes to play. The Porter triple sparked six straight points for the Huskies as Armstead added a free throw and Bradley converted a basket, raising the NIU lead to a dozen, 50-38, just before the midway point of the second half.
Idaho answered back with a 12-3 run to cut the Huskie lead to just three, 53-50, but Armstead knocked down a pair of free throws to keep the Vandals at bay.
The Vandals would pull within a possession, 55-53, with 4:37 left, but Maric and Armstead delivered again for the Huskies, each getting a basket to push the Huskie lead back to six, 59-53, as the clock ticked under four minutes. NIU closed the game out from the free-throw line, scoring its final seven points from the charity stripe to claim the seven-point victory.
Armstead went 9-of-11 from the line to lead the Huskies at the stripe; Maric was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Victor Sanders led Idaho with 17 points. Perrion Callandret added 14 and Nahshon George chipped in 12 points for the Vandals.
NIU will return home on Wednesday, Dec. 2, when the Huskies host Chicago State.