Northern Illinois Wins Home Opener

DeKALB - The Northern Illinois men's basketball backcourt tandem of sophomore Darion "Jake" Anderson and freshman Mike DiNunno combined for 54 points, with each chipping in 27, to lift the Huskies (2-1) to an 86-79 win over Missouri Valley Conference foe Indiana State (0-1) at the Convocation Center Tuesday night.

With the win, NIU secured back-to-back wins for the first time since early in December last season.

Anderson's 27 points marked his career-high, and DiNunno's scoring output came on six three-pointers, just two off the single-game record at NIU. Sophomore center Sean Kowal also scored 10 points, marking his third-consecutive double-digit scoring outing. Indiana State put four players in double-figures, led by Rashad Reed's 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

The Huskies shot 41.9 percent for the game, and claimed the victory despite the Sycamores shooting nearly 53 percent (52.8) from the field. The Huskies out-rebounded ISU (37-35); dished out seven more assists (15-8), and had 10 steals to Indiana State's three. NIU converted nine more free throws (23-of-35) than the Sycamores (14-of-22).

For the second-consecutive game, the Huskies came out firing, and jumped out to an early 14-4 lead. Anderson had two three-pointers in the flurry. The Sycamores came all the way back, and took a 22-21 lead after a dunk by Chicago native Isiah Martin with 7:04 remaining in the first-half.

Anderson's third three of the opening stanza gave the Huskies a 30-25 lead with 4:34 remaining, but a 6-2 run by ISU trimmed the Huskies' advantage to just one, 32-31. DiNunno gave NIU a 38-33 lead at the half after stealing the ball, dashing down the right side of the floor, and hitting a transition three-pointer as the horn sounded.

The Huskies built a 51-39 lead with 17:05 remaining in the game, after opening the second-half on a 13-6 spurt. But the Sycamores again charged back, cutting the advantage to just three, 53-50, with 13:31 remaining. After ISU cut the advantage to just two (55-53), the Huskies responded with a commanding 10-3 run, and extended their lead to 66-56 with 7:26 remaining.

Northern Illinois' lead reached a game-high 12 points (77-65) after Anderson's final field goal (2:02). The Huskies hit eight free throws in the final two minutes to hold off a late charge by Indiana State.

The Huskies will play their first road game of the season Friday, when NIU travels to Nashville, Tenn., to take on host Tennessee State. The Tigers are 0-2 this season.

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