DEKALB, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The NIU Huskies have their first MAC win of the basketball season and Lamar Chapman has his first win as the team’s interim head coach. It came Tuesday afternoon when the Huskies nipped Akron 67-65 in DeKalb.
Junior Darius Beane’s pullup jumper with one second left in regulation was the winning basket. Up until that point it had been a rough day for Beane. He made only 2 of 11 shots from the field to finish with six points. Beane did contribute in other ways pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
Juniors Trendon Hankerson and Justin Lee each scored 15 points, Lee also had a game-high 11 rebounds to record his first career double-double.
“I thought our guys played great,” said Chapman. “We were locked in from start-to-finish, we got good contributions from a little bit of everybody. Our starters stepped up, Trendon (Hankerson) was great on defense, our bigs did a great job of helping on ball screens and the overall effort of our guys, our energy, our togetherness and our toughness showed today in a hard-fought win against a good Akron team.”
Tailing by eight five minutes into the second half, NIU used a 13-4 burst to take a 49-48 lead. Junior Chinedu Kingsley Okanu started the run with a bucket, Hankerson added a pair of triples and Lee scored the last five as the Huskies went in front by one with just under 12 minutes to play.
Okanu finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
After Akron scored to go back in front, NIU used an 8-2 run to take a five-point lead, 57-52, with eight minutes remaining. Senior Nathan Scott made the first basket of the run, Lee made a pair of free throws and junior Adong Makuoi added four points.
Scott finished the contest with nine points, six rebounds and a pair of assists.
The two teams then traded baskets heading into the final two minutes as a bucket from Akron cut the Huskie advantage to 63-60.
Lee scored again to give the Huskies a five-point edge, but Akron responded with the next five, including a layup from Loren Cristian Jackson with 11 seconds remaining, to tie the game at 65.
Following a timeout, NIU inbounded on the side with six seconds to play and Beane hit an 18-foot jumper with one second left to give the Huskies a 67-65 lead. NIU stole the Akron inbounds pass as the Huskies claimed the two-point win.
NIU (2-9, 1-5 MAC) shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field in the second half, including a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range.
Ali Ali scored 15 points to pace the Zips, Bryan Trimble Jr. added 12 points and Jackson finished with 10 for Akron.
NIU will be back on the road on Saturday, January 16, as the Huskies travel to Muncie, Ind., to meet Ball State. Tipoff against the Cardinals is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT and will be available on ESPN+.