Men’s basketball finally snaps losing streak with 19-point win at Northern Illinois
One month and a week ago, Northern Illinois came to McGuirk Arena and beat the men’s basketball team 74-61 and started a 10-game losing streak.
CMU went into the Convocation Center in DeKalb, Ill. Saturday and returned the favor, snapping the 10-game skid and beating the Huskies 69-50.
“I feel good … and that’s an understatement because it’s been a while,” said head coach Keno Davis. “They’ve been playing so hard and working so hard and give credit to the freshman, and rightfully so.”
One freshman in particular has to take most of the credit for getting the team over the hump.
Point guard Chris Fowler scored a team-high 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
In the last five games Fowler is averaging 14 points, 7.4 assits and 2.6 rebounds.
“Yeah that’s all,” Davis said. “We’re seeing a transformation of freshman into a sophomore, showing signs of what we’ll see next year.”
Senior guard Kyle Randall wasn’t far behind in the points category with 14 on the night and he was right with Fowler with five rebounds.
Going into halftime the Chippewas were out-rebounding 20-11, but completely turned it around in the second half out-rebounding NIU 19-9, giving them a 30-29 advantage on the boards.
“I think the rebounding is a great stat, not just because we won, but because we were down 20-11 at halftime with no offensive rebounds,” Davis said. “We comeback with six and out-rebounded them by 10 and that shows that we’re working hard. Our leading rebounders were Randall and Fowler … that shows their effort.”
Joining Randall and Fowler in double-figures scoring was freshman forward John Simons with 10. Fellow freshman forward Blake Hibbitts had nine points.
“It would be easy in a season where we’re starting four freshman to pack it in,” Davis said. “But we haven’t had any of that. We’re getting better and our goal is to be getting better in these next eight to nine days.”
The team will return to McGuirk Arena one last time for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Tuesday March 5 against Eastern Michigan.
The first time around, CMU lost 58-52.
Davis says the Eagles style of play could give his team fits.
“Their length and two-three defense, but they hold the ball every position,” Davis said. “They scored 50 and won today and it took overtime to get 50, they hold the ball, hold the ball, hold the ball and it gets frustrating.”
With the win Saturday the Chippewas move out of the cellar of the Mid-American Conference and are looking to keep moving up as the team finishes the regular-season.
The team will only go as far as Fowler and Randall takes them as it has looked to the guard position to lead all season with a lack of size.
“Everyone wants to read about the seven footer,” Davis said. “But you miss a lot on those guys so we thought late in the recruiting process that if we take those guys that they weren’t going to be ready. So we went out and got some point guards.”
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