Created:Thursday, December 20, 2012 10:04 a.m.CDT

Men's basketball: Huskies can't overcome first-half deficit in loss to Seattle


SEATTLE -- Seattle University built a 20-point first half lead behind 59.3 percent (16-of-27) shooting and went on to defeat Northern Illinois 75-48 on Wednesday night at Key Arena.

Redshirt junior guard Antone Christian scored a season-high 11 points, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line; he was the only Huskie in double figures.

“Seattle found its rhythm right away, after that first timeout they got going and we just couldn’t stop them,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “It didn’t matter if we played man (defense) or zone, they were in their comfort zone, making shots and we just couldn’t answer. We needed multiple stops on defense. I thought Antone Christian came in and gave us a lift and I would have loved to have played him more minutes, but he just doesn’t have the conditioning yet because he hasn’t practiced much lately.”

An old-fashioned 3-point play by sophomore wing Abdel Nader gave NIU (2-8) an early 5-4 lead before Seattle went on a 17-2 run to take a 21-7 lead with 9:31 to play in the first half.

Nader finished with just five points in 11 minutes after being hobbled by an injury in the early going.

A triple by Christian with 8:22 to play in the half brought the Huskies back within a dozen, 24-12, but that was as close as the Huskies would get in the first half as a red-hot Seattle team continued to extend its lead.

The Seattle (4-5) lead grew to 20, 47-27, as Chad Rasmussen hit a triple as time expired in the first half. The Redhawks shot 59.3 percent in the first half while holding the Huskies to just 26.7 percent (8-of-30). Seattle shot 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskies made an effort to get back in the contest with a 10-0 run early in the second half. Sophomore forward Kevin Gray started the run with a short jumper, freshman guard Daveon Balls added five during the burst with a pair of free throws and an old-fashioned 3-point play as the Huskies cut the lead to 54-37 with 13:28 to play.

With the Redhawks leading 65-39, NIU used a 9-1 burst to cut into the gap, but Seattle scored the final nine points of the contest to take the victory, 75-48.

“We only had 12 turnovers against a team that pressures full-court, that’s a good sign,” said Montgomery. “I thought out guys didn’t give up, we came out fighting and held them to 37 percent shooting in the second half, but we couldn’t catch fire.”

Rasmussen finished with 14 points to lead the Redhawks, Prince Obasi added 13 and a game-high eight rebounds.

The Huskies will play the second leg of their Pacific Northwest trip on Saturday, Dec. 22, when they face defending Pac-12 champion Washington. Game time against the Huskies is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, and the contest will be shown live on the Pac-12 Network.

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