The Huskie bench scored 57 points, all from freshman, in the win; freshman Marshawn Wilson scored a game-high 16 points from off the bench. Freshmen Jaylen Key and Austin Pauga both added 15.
Senior Travon Baker was the fifth Huskie in double figures. He scored 10 points with a team-high five assists.
“I thought it was a team win,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “We had some weird lineups, and the freshmen had to step up, I don’t know the last time we had four freshmen on the floor in crucial times. It was a gut-check for our guys when they cut the lead to one with six or seven minutes to go. We found a way to get some stops and made some key baskets.”
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After a triple by junior Michael Orris put the Huskies in front by one, 5-4, CSUN used a 7-0 run to take an 11-5 lead with 14:39 to play in the opening half.
Tied at 19, the Huskies scored seven of the next 10 to take a 26-22 lead at the under eight minute media timeout. Key opened the burst with a layup before freshman Laytwan Porter added a basket and Wilson connected on a triple.
Porter finished with 11 points as he was the fourth Huskie reserve in double figures.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Wilson sparked a 9-2 run for the Huskies that gave NIU a 38-29 lead with 4:23 to play in the first half. Porter added a pair of free throws,
Pauga knocked down his third triple of the half and sophomore Marin Maric added one from the charity stripe as the Huskies took a nine-point lead.
CSUN trimmed the lead back to four in the final three minutes of the half, before five-straight from NIU put the Huskies back up nine, but a three-point play for CSUN cut the lead back to six, 46-40, at the break.
Wilson led NIU with 11 at the intermission; Tavrion Dawson paced CSUN with 12.
The Huskies pushed their advantage out to double figures early in the second half, 52-42. Freshman Jaylen Key made a basket and Wilson added a triple as the lead grew to 10 with 17:29 left in the contest.
CSUN clawed its way back into the game thanks to the free-throw line. The Matadors were in the bonus with 14 minutes to play in the second half. CSUN then trimmed the NIU lead down to just one, 63-62, with 8:22 to play.
On the next possession, Key knocked down a short jumper and, following a CSUN turnover, Pauga knocked down his fifth triple of the night as the Huskies pushed the lead back to six, 68-62.
The Matadors would cut the lead back to three, 68-65, with just over six minutes to play, but Porter made a pair of free throws on the next possession and the Huskies never looked back, going on to the 83-71 victory.
Dawson led all scorers with 18 points in the contest. Jason Richardson added 16 while Zacaary Douglas chipped in 12 and Tre Hale-Edmerson had 11 for CSUN.
The Huskies will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 14, in the second day of the NIU Showcase. NIU will host South Dakota in the first game of the day at 3:30 p.m., followed by CSUN against Wright State at approximately 6 p.m. In the first game on Friday, Wright State defeated South Dakota, 77-69.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)