NIU (5-5) shot 58.8 percent (40-of-68) from the field in the contest, the Huskies had a 58-30 advantage in points in the paint and a 31-12 edge in points off turnovers. Senior Aaric Armstead scored 16 points with five rebounds and three assists.
"We weren't . . .
Olivet Nazarene jumped out to an early lead as a basket from Tyler Crater with 11:40 to play in the opening half gave the Tigers a seven-point advantage, 20-13.
Sophomore Levi Bradley started a 9-2 burst for the Huskies with a jumper just past the midway point of the opening half. Armstead added the next five points during the spurt for the Huskies and senior Dontel Highsmith made a pair of free throws to pull the Huskies even, 24-24, with 8:27 left in the first half.
Bradley scored 12 points with six rebounds while Highsmith scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field with a pair of assists.
The Tigers reclaimed the lead by three, 30-27, before a basket by freshman Justin Thomas with 5:46 to play in the half ignited a 20-5 run to close the opening 20 minutes. Five different players scored during the run, including a pair of triples from sophomore Austin Pauga, the second coming from the corner with 20 seconds to play before the intermission as NIU took a 47-35 lead into the break.
Thomas led NIU with nine points in the opening 20 minutes; Crater scored 10 for Olivet Nazarene to lead all scorers. NIU shot 60 percent (18-of-30) in the opening half while Olivet Nazarene shot 57.1 percent (16-of-28) in the first half.
After Olivet Nazarene scored the opening two points of the second half, NIU used a 10-0 run to push the lead to 20. Armstead opened the burst with a triple, sophomore Jaylen Key and Maric each added a pair and Highsmith completed the run with a trifecta as the Huskies took a 57-37 lead with 17:20 remaining as the Huskies pulled away from the Tigers.
Thomas finished the night with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting with a game-high five assists, fellow freshman Eugene German added 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Crater led Olivet Nazarene with 12 points, Josiah Blan added 11 and Nic Reed chipped in 10 points.
The Huskies will return to action on Saturday, when they open a two-game road trip in the Sunshine State at Florida International. Game time against the Panthers is slated for 6 p.m. CT.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)