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BG heads out to NIU

With only four games remaining in the regular season and a half-game lead in the Mid-American Conference West Division, the men’s basketball team plays the first of two remaining road games on their schedule tonight.

As they head to Dekalb, Ill. to face Northern Illinois, where BG (16-7, 9-5 MAC) has won both games in the Convocation Center since it opened two years ago, they control their destiny.

Coming off three close, hard fought games in which they prevailed in the end in all three, the Falcons have received a huge boost from senior leaders John Reimold and Josh Almanson.

Reimold, who was awarded the MAC West Division Player of the Week on Monday, has averaged 28.5 points the last two games, while Almanson has poured in 23.5.

The Huskies (9-15, 5-19) have had their troubles with BG. Out of the last 10 times they have played, the Falcons have won nine, including a 78-67 victory in Anderson Arena on January 9.

Although BG has had their number, coach Dan Dakich has seen too many close games this year to feel comfortable.

“This (season) is by far the most balanced our league has ever been,” said Dakich, whose Falcons are the only team in MAC play to have a winning road record (4-3). “This year, it’s like you play the same game every night.”

The Falcons are preparing to face a Huskies team that ranks first in the conference in blocks, averaging 4.42 per game, and James Hughes leads the MAC individually with 1.88 per game.

NIU is also the second leading three-point shooting team in the MAC, connecting from deep on 38.7 percent of their shots.

Mike McKinney leads NIU in both scoring (12.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.0).

The game begins at 7 p.m.

The Unsung Leader

While Reimold and Almanson have been on center stage this season, senior Cory Eyink (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg) has been an irreplaceable asset to the team. His defensive presence off the bench has been big of late as he has shut down opposing scorers in late-game situations.

Eyink has proven his worth on the court, but he may be most valuable as a leader. Dakich credits him with being a vocal leader who keeps the team focused on what lies ahead.

“When the whole team gets together, he’s the one doing the talking,” Dakich said. “I think everybody on the team understands and respects him because everyday in practice he goes really hard. He’s just a senior that’s such a good guy that wants to win worse than anything in the world.”

Come Back?

Germain Fitch, who has not played since Jan. 29 at Ohio and is out for the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, has been running as part of his rehab before surgery after this season. He is known to be an incredible healer and if all goes well, there is a chance, albeit small, he could return to the lineup.

“People have (played without a ligament in their knee) over short stretches of time and we’re just going to look at it,” said Dakich of Fitch, who has not practiced. “We’re gonna see if he can go a little bit.”

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