The Bobcats ended a two-game losing skid courtesy of their first win in DeKalb since Jan. 18, 2014. Ohio’s victory also snapped a four-game winning streak for the Huskies.
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Ohio put together a strong offensive showing, shooting 49.2 percent (30-of-61) from the field -- including 40 percent (10-of-25) from three-point range. The Bobcats also converted 66.7 percent (8-of-12) of their free throw attempts.
Simmons shot 8-of-14 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line. He also distributed a game-high five assists to go along with four rebounds and two steals over 37 minutes. Simmons totaled at least 21 points for the second time in 2016-17.
Making his first career start, freshman forward Jason Carter posted the second double-double of his young career with 17 points, which matched his career high. He also registered a game-high 12 rebounds, which set a new career standard. Carter added tallied two blocks, two steals and an assist in 25 minutes of work.
Junior guard Mike Laster came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points off of 5-of-9 shooting -- including a 3-of-6 effort from beyond the arc. His stat line also included two rebounds and an assist over 30 minutes.
Sophomore guard Jordan Dartis went 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from three-point land en route to 14 points in 38 minutes. He also chipped in a rebound and a steal.
Senior center Marin Maric recorded a double-double to lead Northern Illinois, posting a team-high 16 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Freshman guard Eugene German and sophomore wing Levi Bradley gave the Huskies solid production off of the bench. German finished with 15 points, a rebound and an assist in 23 minutes while Bradley added 11 points, four rebounds, an assist and a block over 22 minutes of work.
Sophomore forward Jaylen Key also contributed 11 points for Northern Illinois in addition to posting two rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in 25 minutes.
Northern Illinois built up a 10-6 lead over the first five-plus minutes of play, but Ohio answered with a 9-5 spurt, tying the game at 15-all on a trey by Laster with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The ensuing four-plus minutes featured three more ties and several lead changes until Carter drilled a triple with 5:19 left in the first half to give the Bobcats a 26-23 lead. Ohio stayed in command for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes of play, with a layup by Simmons giving the Bobcats a seven-point advantage at 39-32 heading into the halftime break.
Dartis drained a three to put the Bobcats up by nine less than two minutes into the second half, but the Huskies retaliated with a 24-15 stretch that saw Northern Illinois regain the lead at 59-57 with 6:21 to go after Maric got an offensive rebound off his own missed jumper and put the ball back in the hoop on a layup. Bradley scored all of his 11 points during the Northern Illinois rally, while German chipped in seven points.
Laster's third triple put Ohio back in front by one with just under six minutes to play. Senior guard Dontel Highsmith drew a foul seconds later and made the first of his two free throw attempts to knot the score at 60-all for Northern Illinois.
It was all Ohio from there, though, as the Bobcats closed the game out on an 18-9 run. Sophomore forward Doug Taylor got a key tip-in bucket, Dartis sank another three and Carter converted a conventional three-point play off an assist from Simmons to put the game away.
"It was toughness," Phillips said of his team's final charge to close out the win. "The ball moved well."
Ohio returns to its own Convocation Center in Athens to play host to MAC West Division foe Toledo (10-9, 3-3 MAC) on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET).
Northern Illinois will host Kent State (8 p.m. ET) Tuesday.
(Courtesy of Ohio Athletics)