CMU men's basketball outshot by Northern Illinois


Freshman guard Reggie Bass drives against Northern Illinois' Kaleb Thornton during a game Saturday, Feb. 25 in McGuirk Arena. Bass scored a career and game-high 40 points. 

After Northern Illinois shot for nearly 70% in the first half, Central Michigan men's basketball was unable to come back falling to the Huskies 84-80 on Saturday. 

“Tale of two halves,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “They shoot 70% which is just a lack of effort, lack of try, lack of heart. ... Another team to shoot 70% on your own court when you’re not trying and then play hard in the second half, and they shoot 37%. You play that hard in the first half, you win the game.”

CMU moves to 10-19 overall and 5-11 in the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies break a three-game losing streak now sitting at 12-17 overall and 8-8 in MAC play.

Bass returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday due to an ankle injury and led the Chippewas with a career-high 40 points while setting a school record for 21 free throws made. 

“Every day I go in and I go hard even if I’m hurting,” Bass said. “The points really, I mean it's an accolade so I would say it's good, but at the end of the day we didn’t get the win, so it’s good that I scored that and played good but at the same time I wish we would have had the win.”

“He played well on a bad ankle …” Barbee said. “But just not enough guys to come along with Reggie's performance and give us a chance.” 

After trailing the Huskies for the first five minutes, back-to-back baskets from sophomore center Nicolas Pavrette and senior guard Brain Taylor, gave the Chippewas their first lead of the game with a score of 10-8 with 15:24 left in the first half. 

As CMU struggled offensively, NIU went on a 14-2 run to take back its lead and extend it to 10 with a score of 22-12 halfway through the first half. 

Coming back with a 5-1 run of their own, the Chippewas cut the Huskies' lead to five with 7:48 left in the first half. Unable to find success in the net, the Chippewas allowed NIU to go on a 15-5 run going into the locker room with a score of 47-29. 

“We came out sluggish in the first half and that kind of put us in a slump," Bass said. 

CMU found its footing earlier on in the first half when it went on a 5-2 run, but NIU answered back going on a 5-0 run to extend its lead to 18. 

The Chippewas created momentum as the Huskies struggled offensively, as they went CMU on a 6-0 run with 12:47 left to play, cutting the score to 56-44. 

Unphased by NIU’s double-digit lead, back-to-back baskets from Taylor and a three-pointer at the top of the key from Bass, cut the Huskies lead to six, 60-54.

Following another NIU run to put them up by 10, Bass took advantage of the free throw line. Bass was sent to the line four times to not only break his season-high eight free throws made but he also cut NIU’s lead to seven with a score of 78-71 with 2:18 left in the game. 

“I was looking at the clock and they were kinda in foul trouble, so I knew eventually they got to come over and elbow and if they don’t, it's an easy layup,” Bass said. “They had to pick and choose, and they ended up fouling.” 

CMU shot an 81.1% on the free throw line, shooting 37 times but also putting NIU on the line 39 times. 

The Chippewas were unable to keep the momentum going and keep the Huskies off the foul line allowing NIU to come out with a final score of 84-80.

Looking to stay in the top eight in the MAC standings and secure a place in the conference tournament, CMU knows these last two games of the season are crucial. 

“You look at our schedule and you look at the other people's schedules around us. We probably need one more win to get into a conference tournament,” Barbee said. “So, we've got two more opportunities to get that one.”

The Chippewas play their final home game of the season on Tuesday at McGuirk Arena against Toledo at 7 p.m.