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BG loses tough one in DeKalb

The men’s basketball team could not knock down open shots and went through a 16 minute stretch scoring only eight points as they fell to Northern Illinois 72-61.

In the opening ten minutes of the game, the Falcons, who are now tied with Western Michigan atop the Mid-American Conference West Division, looked like they were cruising to victory as they led by as many as 11 points, but the Huskies came storming back and closed the half on a 24-6 run to lead 32-25.

As NIU’s lead continued to grow, BG’s shooting plummeted. The Falcons came in number one in the MAC in field goal percentage at 49.7 percent, but were held to 40 percent by NIU’s zone defense.

The Huskies were able to up their lead to 20 points before the Falcons made a late push. BG got to within four points of the Huskies with just over five minutes remaining after a put back by John Reimold, but could not get any closer.

Reimold led all scorers with 22, 19 coming in the second half. Josh Almanson came out with a hot hand and had 12 points at the break, but struggled in the second half and finished with 14.

Cory Sims’ 17 points paced the Huskies, while Anthony Maestranzi was right behind with 16. Maestranzi hit four three’s in the game for NIU, who was second in the MAC in three-point shooting percentage coming into the game.

Outside shooting proved to be key in the game as the Huskies displayed their precision from deep, hitting 11 of 19 three’s. The Falcons tied a season-high with 23 three-point attempts, but hit just seven.

“I thought we got great looks, but we were taking them early in the possession,” said Falcons head coach Dan Dakich. “On the road, you need somebody to step up and make (shots) and we didn’t. We got really good looks, nothing inside though, and when you rely on the jump shot, sometimes you die by the jump shot.”

BG came out firing from long as Reimold opened the contest with a three. Almanson hit two treys and John Floyd one during the Falcons early run. BG ended up shooting 4 of 15 on three’s in the first half, while attempting 11 two’s.

NIU’s zone seemed to frustrate the Falcons as they were unable to penetrate and score in the paint. Dakich decided to go with a lineup of Matt Lefeld and Scott Vandermeer, with Almanson on the bench, for a long stretch after half to try to attack the zone. The big men played tough, but the Huskies were able to match BG at the other end of the floor to keep the Falcons at bay.

“I just decided if we’re gonna go down, we’re gonna go down with some tough guys in there,” Dakich said of the lineup switch. “I didn’t think we were competing nearly like we should have.”

BG has fallen victim to big runs in games recently, but managed to escape with wins. With their recent troubles in losing leads and allowing other teams to get back in games, Dakich knew a loss was coming if things did not change.

“(It was) ridiculous on our part to get down that much, but this has been coming. When you drop a 13-point lead like we did against Ball State, you drop a 20-point lead like we did against Arkansas-Little Rock, eventually (if) you keep doing that, it’s gonna bite you and (NIU) certainly bit us,” Dakich said.

The Falcons host MAC East leader Miami on Sunday in Anderson Arena at noon.

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