The Huskie defense held the Raiders to just 27.3 percent shooting (6-of-22) in the second half as NIU won its third consecutive game to start the season, sweeping the weekend at the NIU Showcase. The 3-0 start is NIU’s first since 2006-07.
Sophomore Marin Maric added a career-high 13 points and eight rebounds while senior Travon Baker chipped in 12 points, three assists and three steals.
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“At the start of the second half, we went down low and established ourselves in the low-post; then we were able to get out in transition a little bit more and our defense picked up. When you are down eight, you have to get consecutive stops and we did that.”
NIU led by a pair early on until an 8-0 burst from Wright State gave the Raiders a 10-4 lead with 16:17 to play in the opening half.
With the Raiders leading by four, 19-15, Armstead got a layup off an offensive rebound and junior Michael Orris made a free throw to cut the Wright State lead to just one, 19-18. However, a Wright State triple pushed the lead back to four with just under eight minutes to play in the opening half.
Wright State (1-2) led by five until a pair of free throws from Baker cut the lead back to three, 29-26, with 3:16 to play in the half. The Raiders then scored five quick points to lead by eight with 2:33 left before the intermission.
NIU trimmed the lead to six on a free-throw line jumper by Armstead with just over a minute left in the period, and the Huskies had a chance to cut the lead to four after a steal by Baker. Northern's possession came up empty, however, and Joe Thomasson connected on a jumper just before the break to give the Raiders a 39-31 lead at the half.
Armstead led NIU with seven points in the opening 20 minutes; J.T. Yoho had 11 and Thomassson had 10 to pace Wright State. The Raiders went 6-of-10 from the three-point line in the opening 20 minutes.
NIU opened the second stanza on a 9-2 to run to pull within one, 41-40, with 17:35 to play. Armstead scored the first five out of the intermission for the Huskies and Maric had the next four to bring the Huskies nearly even.
The Huskies took their first lead of the second half on a triple from the wing by Baker as NIU went in front, 46-44, with 14:56 left.
A pair of free throws from freshman Marshawn Wilson helped push the Huskies to a three-point lead, 50-47, but back-to-back triples from the Raiders swung the lead the other way, 53-50, with just under nine minutes to play. Wilson finished with nine points off the bench for the Huskies.
NIU pulled back even on a basket by Maric and a free throw by Baker, but Wright State responded with a pair of free throws from Thomasson and a basket by Justin Mitchell to take a four-point lead, 57-53, with 5:24 to go.
Just as they did Saturday when they outscored South Dakota 10-3 in the final five minutes, the Huskies overpowered Wright State late, outscoring the Raiders 12-2 in the last five minutes to earn the victory.
Back-to-back baskets by Wilson and Armstead, both off offensive rebounds, pulled NIU even at 57 with just over three minutes left. After a long empty possession that saw Wright State use nearly a minute, Baker drove and dropped the ball off to freshman Jaylen Key for a layup to put the Huskies in front, 59-57, with 1:41 to play.
The Raiders and Huskies traded free throws before Baker drained a trifecta from the top of the key with 14 seconds remaining to put the Huskies up by five, 64-59, and seal the win.
Yoho led Wright State with 16 points; Thomasson added 15 and a team-high seven assists.
NIU will return to action next Saturday, Nov. 21, when the Huskies host Eureka College at 1 p.m., at the NIU Convocation Center.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)