The Huskies built on their three-point halftime lead with a 10-0 run to open the second stanza en route to the 15-point victory in the final non-conference game of the season.
Senior Marin Maric . . .
"It took us a while to get going," said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "The second half was a lot more like we want to play. We got some defensive stops, we got out in transition. We came out a little sluggish, but we got ourselves going in the second half."
NIU (8-5) went into the intermission with a 34-31 lead but quickly pushed its advantage to double digits with a 10-0 burst to open the second half. Senior Dontel Highsmith scored four of the first six, sandwiched around a basket from Maric, to force an early timeout from UIS.
Following the timeout, freshman Justin Thomas added a bucket and Key ended the run with a layup as the Huskies took a 44-31 lead less than three minutes into the second half.
Illinois Springfield trimmed the lead back to a dozen until a layup from freshman Eugene German and a jumper from Thomas pushed the lead to 51-35 with just under 13 minutes to play. NIU's advantage grew to as much as 17 when a jumper from Key gave the Huskies a 55-38 lead with 10:59 left.
The Prairie Stars then cut the NIU lead back to nine with a 15-7 run, capped by a layup from Vince Walker with 6:23 remaining as the Huskie advantage shrank to 62-53. NIU answered with the next five, including a jumper from sophomore Laytwan Porter and a layup by senior Aaric Armstead as the Huskies ended any chance of a surprise comeback.
Armstead finished with eight points and a game-high four assists.
Eddie Longmeyer scored a game-high 16 points to lead Illinois Springfield; Paxton Harmon added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Prairie Stars.
UIS got off to a good start to open the contest, leading by as many as four in the early going. A pair of triples from Wilson helped push the Huskies in front by four, 20-16, with 11:34 to play in the opening half.
NIU's lead grew to eight, its largest of the opening 20 minutes, on Wilson's third triple with just over 90 seconds to play before the intermission. But UIS scored the final five of the half to cut the Huskie lead to just 34-31 at the break.
The Huskies will now turn their attention to Mid-American Conference play. NIU begins its 18-game league slate on Tuesday as the Huskies travel to Oxford, Ohio, to meet Miami. Game time against the RedHawks is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET) and will be available on ESPN3.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)