Sophomore Aaric Armstead scored a team-high 15 points, while senior Anthony Johnson added 12 points and six assists. Senior Aaron Armstead chipped in 11 points.
"I thought our guys came out with great energy and great effort," said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "We were unbelievably focused and ready to play. You could tell that they had a chip on their shoulder from the two-point loss at Central Michigan a week-and-a-half ago. I thought our defensive effort was outstanding and we are shooting the basketball the best we have all year. We are being very unselfish, very efficient and making free throws too, which is nice."
The Huskies shot 56.8 percent (25-of-44) in the contest, including 68.2 percent (15-of-22) in the second half, while holding Central Michigan to 31.5 percent (17-of-54) shooting.
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Central Michigan cut the deficit to just one, 8-7, with 15:20 to play in the opening period, but an old-fashioned three-point play from Johnson and a bucket by Aaron Armstead pushed the NIU lead back to six, 13-7.
The Chippewas were within four, 19-15, when NIU used a 9-0 run to push its advantage to double figures, 26-15, with 5:38 to play in the opening half. Johnson started the burst with a pair of free throws. Senior Pete Rakocevic added a bucket before Aaron Armstead connected on a triple and Aaric Armstead capped the run with a basket.
NIU outscored the Chippewas 38-16 in the paint, including Rakocevic's 3-of-3 from the field, scoring six points in eight minutes of play.
Central Michigan (21-6, 11-5 MAC) made just one field goal in the final nine minutes of the opening half, a triple from Blake Hibbitts with 1:50 left before the break, as NIU took a 33-20 lead into the intermission.
NIU shot 45.5 percent (10-of-22) from the field in the opening half and held Central Michigan, who entered the contest as the 10th-highest scoring team in the nation, to just 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from the field.
After the break, the Chippewas started the second 20 minutes with a 7-3 spurt to pull back within nine, 36-27. NIU answered with the next five on an old-fashioned three-point play from Maric and a basket by Johnson as the Huskies pushed the lead to 41-27 with 15:33 to play.
Leading by 14, 46-32, Rakocevic provided the highlight of the night as he took an entry pass from Johnson and flushed a two-handed jam that brought down the basket.
Following a brief delay to reset the hoop, Aaron Armstead pushed the Huskie burst to 6-0 as NIU led by 18, 50-32, with 12 minutes to play.
NIU continued to cruise, leading by as much as 23 in the final minutes.
Braylon Rayson led Central Michigan with 12 points and Rayshawn Simmons added 11 for the Chippewas.
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET)
Toledo at Central Michigan (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)