It was an ugly night for the men’s basketball team Wednesday when Northern Illinois came into McGuirk Arena with a 3-13 record and left with a 74-61 win.
CMU found no rhythm from the field, as it shot just 32.7 percent overall and 29.2 percent in the second half. On the opposite end NIU took advantage of the Chippewas struggles by shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from beyond the arc.
The Huskies shot 60 percent in the second half to keep the pressure on CMU.
“Got to give Northern Illinois credit, they had a win on the road coming in here and now they have two,” said head coach Keno Davis. “Northern Illinois had a great game plan, they executed ,and I think you have to give them credit.”
Things looked good for the Chippewas halfway through the first half when senior guard Finis Craddock hit a three-pointer to put his team up 21-11 with 9:23 left.
Sophomore guard Austin Keel hit a three-pointer a minute later to keep CMU up 10, but, from there on out, it was all Huskies.
NIU went on a 18-7 run to end the half, as the Chippewas didn’t make a single shot in the final 6:36.
“We’ve talked about how sometimes we’ll have up nights and down nights with six true freshmen and tonight was part of that,” Davis said. “They went on their run and did things we hadn’t seen before, and we just have to get our minds straight that we want to peak when it comes time for the conference tournament.”
The second half didn’t fare any better for CMU, as it never regained the lead.
Every time the Chippewas thought it might have an answer, the Huskies responded with three-pointers or a tough made jump shot to take the sails out of the comeback.
“I feel like we just didn’t play hard,” Craddock said. “They came out with a lot of energy, and I feel we went on our spurts and then, when they went on theirs, we kind of just laid back.”
Craddock was a silver lining to the night, as he has continued to excel and see his minutes grow as he brings a spark off the bench.
The senior finished the night with 11 points including, two three-pointers, one of which gave CMU a spark late that was soon extinguished by an NIU bucket.
Craddock also had three steals on the night to try to help get the Chippewas going defensively, but it just wasn’t enough.
“Finis was a guy in the first few games who wasn’t playing a lot,” Davis said. “And for a senior to keep his head up and to keep working hard in practice and got his opportunities to show what he can do, and we feel strong about him and you see the underclassmen have an attitude like that.”
CMU will have a chance to redeem itself in front of its home crowd at 7 p.m. Saturday when it host Western Michigan.