Seniors Levi Bradley and Dante Thorpe each scored 13 points while senior Lacey James grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
“I said coming into the game that turnovers were going to be important,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “(Green Bay) is going to try to speed you up and we we're short on bodies. Four games in six days also played a role, not to make excuses, but we shot the ball good enough. We played good enough offense, but on defense we had to go to the zone. It got us back into the game, but it just isn’t our forte and we came up a little short tonight.”
After the Phoenix took a 78-63 lead, the Huskies switched to a 1-3-1 zone that paid immediate dividends as NIU scored the next 11 points to pull within four. German scored seven of the 11 as the Green Bay lead was cut to 78-74 with 1:31 to play
Green Bay (4-3) scored the next four to lead by eight, but NIU continued its comeback bid, scoring seven of the next nine, capped by a German triple, to get within three with, 84-81, with 18 seconds left. The Phoenix split a pair of free throws and Bradley scored on a put-back to get NIU within a pair with four seconds left, but Green Bay was able to inbound into the front court and dribble out the final seconds.
ShanQuan Hemphill scored 25 points to lead Green Bay, Sandy Cohen III and JayQuan McCloud each added 15 points.
The Huskies and Phoenix traded baskets in the early going with back-to-back buckets from Thorpe and sophomore Rod Henry-Hayes (Zion, Ill./Zion Benton Township) giving the Huskies a 21-18 lead with 12:40 to play in the opening half.
The NIU (4-3) lead reached four after an old-fashioned three-point play from Bradley with 11:20 left before the break. Green Bay pulled back even at 26 before the Huskies pushed the lead out to a half-dozen, 34-28, on a basket by James and a layup from German.
Green Bay answered right back with a pair of triples to pull even again at 34 with just over five minutes to play before the intermission.
After a turnaround jumper by senior Anastasios Demogerontas and a corner trifecta from freshman Austin Richie put the Huskies up by five, Green Bay closed the half on a 13-5 run to take a 47-44 lead into halftime.
Green Bay jumped out to a quick start to the second half, building a 56-49 lead. NIU answered right back with the next nine, seven of which came from Thorpe, as the Huskies regained the lead, 58-56, with 14:34 to play.
The Phoenix then used a 20-3 run to take a 76-61 advantage with just under six minutes remaining before NIU switched to the 1-3-1 zone and nearly completed an improbable comeback.
NIU will return home on Wednesday, December 5, when the Huskies host UC Davis. Tipoff against the Aggies is scheduled for 7 p.m.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)