Topple Ohio Huskies on Senior Night


DEKALB, Ill. – Trendon Hankerson (Novi, Michigan/Novi) and Keshawn Williams (Chicago Heights, Ill./Tulsa) each scored 15 points as the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team outlasted Ohio, 58-57, Friday night (March 4) at the NIU Convocation Center.

NIU limited Ohio to just 33.3 percent (17 of 51) shooting from the field, including 28 percent (7 of 25) from three-pointers.

“I’m super proud of the guys, all season long, but especially tonight because when you have nothing to play, it shows the character of these young men,” the NIU head coach said. Rashon Burno. “We played to play not for ourselves but for the four seniors who have sacrificed a lot to be part of this program.

“We went out and defended the best we’ve defended all season against one of the top two teams in the league and I’m very proud of those guys.”

Leading by a pair with just under six minutes to go, Hankerson hit a triple to give the Huskies a 50-45 lead.

After a pair of free throws by Ohio, Williams converted an old-school three-point play with 4:57 remaining to help the NIU advantage expand to a half-dozen, 53-47. The Bobcats cut that lead in half with a front three Adong Makuoi (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada/Daytona State College) finished in painting and Antoine Crump (Inkster, Michigan/Middle Tennessee) made a free throw to cut the Huskies’ lead to six, 56-50, with three minutes remaining.

Ohio scored the next five to cut NIU’s lead to just one with just under two minutes to go before Makuoi cleaned up an offensive rebound at the rim to give the Huskies a 58-55 lead with 1: 24 to do.

The Bobcats responded with a field goal on the next possession to draw less than one but, after an empty possession by the Huskies, NIU earned a save from the defense to end the game for the one-point victory .

Mark Sears finished with 19 points and eight assists for Ohio, Jason Carter added 10 points.

A triple of Zion Russell (Upper Marlboro, Md./National Christian Academy) gave NIU a 9-4 lead early on. Ohio scored the next seven games as the Bobcats took an 11-9 lead with 14:33 left in the first half.

NIU then used a 13-2 run to take a 22-13 lead with 6:27 remaining before the break. Chinedu Kingsley Okanu (Lynwood, Ill./Vincennes University) opened the flurry with a bucket, Williams added four points and Hankerson converted a forward layup Zool Kueth (Gallatin, Tenn./Pratt CC) made a pair of free throws and Hankerson capped the flurry with a triple to give the Huskies a nine-point lead.

Crump gave NIU its biggest lead of the half, 26-16, with 4:24 to go in the half. Ohio then used a 5-1 surge to cut the Huskies’ advantage to half a dozen, 27-21, at intermission.

Carter led all scorers with eight points for Ohio in the first 20 minutes, Hankerson led NIU with seven points.

An 8-0 run gave Ohio a two-point lead, 33-31, just over five minutes into the second period. Bobcat’s lead grew to four until buckets of Darweshi Hunter (Cincinnati, Ohio/Weber State) and Williams drew NIU even at 36 with 12:01 left in the contest.

Williams finished with a record nine rebounds to go along with his 15 points.

The NIU run went to 12-2 as Hankerson scored the next four, Noah Kon (Houston, TX/Houston Christian) added a bucket and Hunter finished to the rim to give NIU a 44-38 lead with 8:37 remaining. The Huskies were still ahead by six before four straight Ohio free throws put the Bobcats close with six minutes remaining.


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