The NIU Huskies are the seventh seed in the MAC Tournament, but they have a much higher opinion of themselves and what they might do this week.
They got off to a good start Monday night by knocking off tenth seed Western Michigan 56-50. Senior point guard Travon Baker led the way with 18 points. More importantly he scored eight straight points during a critical stretch late in the game.
“We pride ourselves on defense and rebounding, and we decided to rebound in the second half,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “I thought we defended good enough to win the game. When it’s March, you can bend but not break, you have to keep playing with energy, keep getting stops and just find a way to will the ball in the basket. The last five minutes we made enough free throws and Travon Baker made the biggest three in a long time to put us up three.
Freshman Levi Bradley added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Huskies and Aaric Armstead had 12. The Huskies won without star center Marin Maric who was wearing a walking boot on one foot while watching from the bench.
NIU improved it’s record at home to 18-1 this season. The Huskies are 21-11 overall. Now the Huskies head to Cleveland for a MAC quarterfinal matchup Thursday evening against Ohio University. Those two teams split their regular season matchups.