Freshman Marshawn Wilson added 10 points and senior Chuks Iroegbu chipped in nine points as the Huskies won at Toledo for the second consecutive season.
“Credit our guys, we found a way to win,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “We got down, we came back and we . . .
“It was about who was going to make plays down the stretch and our senior, Travon Baker, made some huge plays. Credit Chuks (Iroegbu) as well; he had two great drives late to the basket. We will take it however we can get it on the road because it is never easy.”
NIU overcame a 16-shot advantage at the free-throw line by Toledo as the Rockets went 21-of-27 from the line, while the Huskies went just 9-of-11. The Huskie bench scored 24 points, while the Rocket reserves scored just eight points in a game that featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes.
A pair of free throws by Toledo (10-6, 1-2 MAC) stopped an 8-2 Huskie run and pulled the Rockets even, 59-59, with 3:51 left. A layup by Maric and a layup by Iroegbu, sandwiched, around a triple by Toledo’s Nathan Boothe, put the Huskies in front, 63-62, with just under two to play.
Boothe then drove the basket for another layup, pushing the Rockets back in front but Iroegbu drove to the basket for another bucket for the Huskies, giving NIU a 65-64 lead with just over a minute to play.
The Huskies forced a Toledo turnover on the next possession and, after a timeout, NIU got Wilson an uncontested dunk on an out of bounds play from midcourt to give NIU a 67-64 lead with 26 seconds left.
Following another turnover by the Rockets, Baker knocked down a pair from the line, giving the Huskies a five-point lead with 15 seconds left, putting the game out of reach.
Boothe finished with a game-high 30 points for the Rockets; Jonathan Williams added 21 points but no other Rocket recorded more than six points.
FIRST HALF ACTION
NIU raced out to an early seven-point lead, 12-5, in the opening five minutes. Baker scored eight of NIU’s first 12, including a pair of triples. Toledo answered with a 10-2 run to give the Rockets a 15-14 edge with 9:14 to play in the first half.
A layup by freshman Jaylen Key and a pair of triples from Wilson pushed the lead back to the Huskies, 22-15, until Toledo scored the next seven to pull back even, 22-22, with just under five minutes to play before the intermission.
The lead swung back-and-forth over the final five minutes with the Huskies pulling even on a jumper by Baker with 38 seconds to play before the break. NIU got a defensive stop and Armstead kissed a jumper off glass just before the horn to give the Huskies a 34-32 lead at the break.
Baker paced the Huskies with 12 points in the opening 20 minutes; Williams led Toledo with 13.
POST INTERMISSION BURST
Toledo scored the first six out of the half, but NIU answered with seven-straight, four by Maric and an old-fashioned three-point play from Iroegbu as the Huskies went back in front, 41-38.
After a basket by Wilson gave the Huskies a two-point lead, 46-44, the Rockets responded with the next eight to lead by a half-dozen, 52-46, just past the midway point of the second half.
Baker answered the Toledo spurt with a triple to cut the lead in half. After Toledo scored to move back in front by four, 55-51, the Huskies went on an 8-2 run to take a 59-57 lead with 4:13 to play. Baker knocked down a pair of triples and Maric made a layup to push the Huskies back in front, setting up the game’s final minutes.
NEXT: Northern Illionois is at Western Michigan Saturday (7 p.m. ET). Toledo hosts Akron Friday (7 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)