The Huskies (3-8, 3-3 home) came out red hot in the first half, hitting open shots by moving the ball well, exploiting holes in North Dakota's 2-3 zone defense. The Huskies also played well on defense, holding the Fighting Sioux (2-13) to just 11 points in the first half. NIU led North Dakota 34-11 at intermission.
North Dakota, who is playing its first full season as a member of Division I basketball, made a 19-5 run to start the second half, cutting NIU's lead to 39-30. That would be as close as they would get, as the Huskies pulled away to a 66-45 win, improving to 3-3 at home.
Player of the game: Xavier Silas. The junior guard finished with 24 points on 8-13 shooting, 6-10 from behind the arc. Silas also added 4 assists and 2 steals. He was the only Huskie to finish with double digits in scoring.
Huskies won because...: they moved the ball well on offense. The Huskies passing game was impressive from the start. They finished the night with 18 assists against only 11 turnovers. Darion "Jake" Anderson led the squad with 6 assists.
On the bright side: Xavier Silas continues to impress. He is a fundamentally sound shooter with the tools to be the Huskies go-to guy night in, night out. He also played well on defense and finished the night with 4 assists.
Lee Fisher finished the game with 9 rebounds. He continues to show a mean streak in the paint. If only he were a few inches taller, Fisher would the perfect rebounding presence we desperately need.
Tony Nixon showed flashes of his potential early in the first half, hitting back-to-back 3 pointers to go along with a nice baseline jumper.
Stat line of the game: Mike Dinunno 1-7 3pt, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 25 minutes. Those numbers are just not going to get it done for a starting PG. Dinunno ran the point for most of the game but rarely found the open guy or created open looks. His shooting also continues to stink. It is hard to imagine Dinunno struggling this badly, one year removed from being named to the Conference All-Freshman Team. Talk about a sophomore slump. It would be nice to see Mikey D come out of this slump, but the bothersome thing is that if he is not hitting them, he could at least be dishing them.
Weird scene at the Convo: With just 2 minutes left in the game, Dinunno got hit hard by Travis Mertens as he drove to the basket. Dinunno didn't like being hit, shoving Mertens as both players got up off the floor. A few players from both teams began pushing and shoving each other. Coach Ricardo Patton rushed off the bench to try to separate the scuffle. After things were starting to die down, Jeremy Landers got pushed by one of the North Dakota players. Patton didn't appreciate Landers being pushed, looking visibly angry, even yelling at the player. Mike Dinunno ended up having to restrain Patton by hugging him and dragging him back to NIU's bench.
It is not very often you see a coach being held back by a player, it is usually the other way around.
What's next for the Huskies: @ Chicago State (5-8) next Wednesday (Jan. 6) beginning at 7 p.m. NIU is 21-0 all-time versus Chicago State