BGSU held the Huskies to only 10-of-27 (37 percent) shooting in the second half, including 2-of-8 (25 percent) from behind the three-point line. For their part, the Falcons shot 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) and 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from long range over the final 20 minutes of play to pull away with the 10-point victory.
With the decision, BGSU moves to 13-5 overall and 5-2 in MAC play with its ninth home win of the season. The 13 wins surpass the Falcons win total of all of last season. Northern Illinois fell to 8-10 overall and 2-5 in the MAC.
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“But we kept our defensive intensity throughout the first half and then in the second half we … felt like our best offense was going to be getting stops and running. Getting the ball up the floor and scoring before they could get their defense set."
A trio of players scored in double figures for the Falcons, led by senior Richaun Holmes' 18 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Zack Denny added 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, while fellow guard Anthony Henderson totaled 11 points and six rebounds. Off the bench, Delvin Dickerson chipped in with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. He also took a team-high four offensive charges on the Falcons' defensive end.
The Huskies were led by Aaron Armstead's 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Anthony Johnson added eight points on the night. Seven other Huskies scored at least two points in the loss.
BGSU opened the game up with a two-handed slam from Holmes just under 40 seconds into the contest and jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a second basket from Holmes at the 18:47 mark of the opening half.
However, the Huskies answered with five quick points to take its first lead of the game at 5-4 on a layup from Michael Orris with 17:02 to go in the first half.
After the Falcons retook the lead on a drive and layup by Denny less than a minute later, BGSU held a slight lead over the visiting Huskies for the next several minutes of play until back-to-back buckets from Holmes and Spencer Parker put the home team in front by five at 17-12 with 7:45 to go before the halftime break.
The Parker layup would be the Orange and Brown's last basket for almost six minutes as the Falcons went ice cold from the field. That allowed NIU to use a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 19-17 on a layup from the right block by Jordan Threloff at the 4:29 mark.
A fast break one-handed slam by Holmes over an NIU defender at the 1:48 mark ended the Falcons' scoring drought and tied the contest up at 19-19.
A free throw by NIU and a 14-foot jumper by BGSU's Henderson as the first half horn sounded put the home team in front by one at 21-20 heading into the halftime break.
The Falcons started the second half the way the first half ended with a basket from Henderson. This time is was a three-ball from the left wing.
The home team continued to use the three-point line and ran out to a nine-point lead at 35-26 on a third three-pointer from Denny. NIU was forced to call a timeout with 12:55 to go in regulation.
An 8-0 run by the Huskies out of the timeout trimmed the Falcons' lead back down to one at 35-34, while just over a minute later a three-pointer by Armstead put the visitors back in front by two at 39-37 with 9:03 left to play.
The Falcons embarked on what proved to be a decisive run with the help of a favorable bounce. Dickerson’s 3-pointer from the top of the key hit the back rim, went straight up in the air and then fell through the net. It not only gave BGSU the lead again, but also ignited a 16-2 burst over the next 6:30 to give the Falcons a 53-41 advantage with 2:27 left.
Four quick NIU points from Armstead and Johnson put the Huskies within eight at 53-45. However, the Falcons used two free throws from Jovan Austin and one more from Henderson in the closing minute to help seal the 56-46 home conference win.
BGSU out-rebounded NIU 32-31 on the night; however, the Huskies held a scoring advantage in points in the paint (30-26), points off turnovers (13-12) and bench points (26-12).
For the game, the Falcons shot 21-of-49 (42.9 percent) overall and 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from the three-point line. NIU was 17-of-47 (36.2 percent) from the field and just 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from long range for the game.
The Falcons (13-5, 5-2 MAC) will remain at home to host the Akron Zips on Saturday night, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. BGSU fell to the Zips at Akron, 67-50, back on Jan. 14. Northern Illinois hosts Toledo Saturday (8 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of BGSU Athletics/MRO edit)