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NIU loses at Ball State

MUNCIE, Ind. – Leading by three nearing the midway point of the second half, Ball State used a 29-9 run to create separation as the Cardinals downed the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team, 77-68, on Tuesday night at Worthen Arena.

Sophomore Eugene German scored a game-high 25 points, junior Anastasios Demogerontas  added 13 points and junior Levi Bradley (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI) added 10 points.

“The start of both halves hurt us,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “They started (the game) on an 8-0 run, they had a 4 or 6-0 run to start the second half. It is hard to keep battling back. Early in the game we had too many turnovers. It seemed like we had some open threes, we just couldn’t make them and we needed one to get us going.”

Ball State (19-9, 10-5 MAC) scored the first eight to open the contest before a layup from German and a corner triple from junior Dante Thorpe, off a dish from German, trimmed the Cardinal lead to three four minutes into the contest.

The Cardinals led by five, 18-13, until a 7-0 Huskie run gave NIU a 20-18 lead with 8:27 to play in the half, forcing a Ball State timeout. Demogerontas sparked the Huskie run with an old-fashioned three-point play, German finished at the rim and sophomore Justin Thomas  connected on a floater to give NIU a two-point lead.

Thomas finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

The Cardinals answered with seven of the next nine as Ball State regained the lead, 25-22.

NIU (12-16, 5-10 MAC) pulled even, 30-30, on a basket by Demogerontas with just over two minutes to play before the intermission but Ball State used a 7-2 burst to close the half to take a 37-32 lead into the half.

Trey Moses led all scorers with 12 points for Ball State in the opening half, Tayler Persons added 11 for the Cardinals. German paced NIU with 11 first half points while Demogerontas added nine. Ball State went 13-of-17 from the free-throw line in the opening 20 minutes while the Huskies were just 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.

Ball State scored eight of the first 10 to open the second half as the Cardinals pushed their lead to 44-34 before the first media timeout of the second half.

NIU answered with a seven-point burst to get back within three. Demogerontas opened the spurt with a trifecta, Thorpe added a basket and Bradley made a pair of free throws as NIU cut the Ball State lead to 44-41 with 13:31 to go.

Ball State responded with a 29-9 run as the Cardinals took a 73-50 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.

The Huskies closed the game on an 18-4, but it wasn’t enough as Ball State picked up its fifth consecutive victory.

Moses led four Cardinals in double figures with 23 points while also grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Persons added 14 points, Tahjai Teague chipped in 13 points and Sean Sellers scored 12 points.

NIU will be back on the road on Saturday, Feb. 24, as the Huskies play their final regular season road game at Eastern Michigan. Game time against the Eagles is slated for 11 a.m. CT.



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