NIU (6-5) shot 44.1 percent (8-of-18) in the second half, and 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the free-throw line, as the Huskies overcame a one-point halftime deficit to earn the victory.
"I thought we . . .
. . . outplayed (FIU) in the first half but we found ourselves down one at halftime, but it was an unbelievable job on the defensive end in the second half and Dontel Highsmith was terrific," said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. "Our defense was excellent, we made our free throws and, if it wasn't for their press, the margin could have been a little wider."
Armstead finished with nine points, a game-high tying seven rebounds and a team-high three assists.
FIU responded with seven of the next eight to pull within one, 48-47, before NIU answered with the next seven. Freshman Justin Thomas and Highsmith both connected on short jumpers in the lane and the Huskies added three free throws, one from senior Marin Maric and two from Thomas, as NIU pushed its lead to 55-47 with 3:11 to play.
Thomas finished with eight points, including 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
The Panthers closed the gap to as little as four but NIU went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds to close out its first road win of the season.
Donte McGill scored 20 points to lead FIU, he was the only Panther in double figures.
In the opening half, FIU held a slim 10-9 lead before a 10-0 run pushed the Huskies in front by nine with just over eight minutes to play in the first half. German opened the burst with a layup, Highsmith added a triple, Armstead knocked down a jumper and Highsmith added another trifecta as the Huskies took a 19-10 lead.
Highsmith's 23 points came on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.
With the Huskies still leading by nine, FIU used a 7-2 burst to trim the NIU lead back to just four, 23-19, with 4:52 to play in the half.
NIU led by three with just under two minutes to play in the opening half before an old-fashioned three-point play from McGill brought the Panthers even. A layup off an offensive rebound by sophomore Levi Bradley helped the Huskies regain the lead until a triple from Anthony Boswell with one second left in the half gave FIU a 30-29 lead at the intermission.
The Huskies will remain on the road as their two-game Florida trip concludes on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at South Florida. Game time against the Bulls is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
(Courtesy of NIU Athletics)