Junior Travon Baker scored a game-high 16 points, senior, while Jordan Threloff added 12, sophomore Michael Orris chipped in 11 and senior Aaron Armstead scored 10 as the Huskies improved to 10-12, 4-7 in Mid-American Conference play.
Bo Calhoun and Jeremiah Davis each scored 13 points to pace the Cardinals (7-15, 2-9 MAC). Franko House added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
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“We played good defense in the final five minutes of the first half, shutting Ball State out. It was a huge win for us because now we go on the road for our next two, so hopefully it was a confidence booster.”
NIU finished the game shooting a season-high 55.3 percent (36-of-47), including 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from three-point range. The Huskie bench outscored the Ball State reserves 28-11 and NIU converted 14 Ball State turnovers into 21 points, while the Cardinals scored just 11 points off 10 Huskie miscues.
Ball State made its first five field goal attempts as the Cardinals jumped out to an early 11-8 advantage. A four-point play from Aaron Armstead helped NIU cut the Ball State lead to just one, 13-12, and the Huskies pulled even, 16-16, on a pair of free throws from redshirt freshman Marin Maric with 12:06 to play in the opening half.
After NIU pulled in front, 19-18, Ball State used a 9-2 run to take a 27-21 lead with 6:28 left before the intermission.
Back-to-back triples from Baker helped NIU trim the deficit to a pair, 29-27, with just over five minutes to play in the first half. Ball State answered with a three before the Huskies closed the half with an 8-0 run to close the opening 20 minutes. NIU took a 35-32 lead into the intermission.
Senior Anthony Johnson started the burst with a pair from the line, sophomore Aaric Armstead added two from the charity stripe before Aaron Armstead and Orris closed the half with layups.
Johnson finished with nine points and a season-high three assists while Aaric Armstead added eight points, five rebounds and a game-high four steals.
The Huskies led by five, 44-39, when Ball State used a 9-2 run to take a 48-46 advantage with 13:26 to play.
Trailing for the first time in the second half, NIU responded with a 10-0 run, ignited by a triple from Orris. Orris then added another basket, Aaron Armstead made a pair of free throws and Maric converted an old-fashioned three-point play as NIU regained the lead, 56-48, with 11:44 left.
The Cardinals pulled back within four, 67-63, but a triple from Baker, followed by a defensive stop and another trifecta from the Detroit native pushed the lead to double-digits and the Huskies cruised to victory.
NIU will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 14, as the Huskies travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face the Broncos of Western Michigan. Game time on Saturday is slated for 3:30 p.m. CT.
(Courtesy of NIU Athleics)