DeKALB – For Northern Illinois men’s basketball, the first half of Thursday night’s contest against Eastern Michigan probably brought back erie memories of the Huskies’ game against the Eagles in Ypsilanti, Mich., back in January 2013.
That evening, the Huskies scored four points in the first half and set multiple records for offensive futility, including worst field goal percentage in a half, as NIU went just 1 for 31 before halftime.
Thursday’s first half was another rough, low-scoring affair, as the Huskies and Eagles combined for 32 first-half points. However, it took double overtime to decide the outcome, and NIU pulled out a 61-59 victory thanks on a Jordan Threloff tip in with 0.8 seconds left.
"It bounced to me," Threloff said. "I tipped it in because I knew there wasn't a lot of time left. It just went in for me."
Threloff led the Huskies with 27 points and 18 rebounds. Aaric Armstead added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"I'm going to give Jordan Threloff the game ball. Twenty-seven points, 18 rebounds. Thanks for coming home," said NIU coach Mark Montgomery, looking at Threloff, who was seated to his left. "Big difference when you have a post presence."
NIU shot just 5 for 28 (17.9 percent) in the first half while Eastern Michigan was just 4 of 23 (17.4 percent). Neither team made a 3-point basket in the first, and the first three wasn’t converted until NIU’s Travon Baker converted one with 10:50 remaining in the game.
The Eagles looked like they were going to head into halftime with a two-point lead, but an Armstead layup at the buzzer off of a missed 3-pointer by Travon Baker made it a 16-16 game as the teams went into the locker room.
The Eagles started strong in the second, jumping out to a five-point lead in the first five minutes. Eastern would jump out to a 33-24 lead near the midway point, but the Huskies went on a 12-3 run, with Armstead tying the game at 36 on a layup with 6:42 remaining.
NIU would take a 47-46 lead on a Threloff layup with 17 seconds left in regulation, but Da’Shonte Riley tied the contest at the free-throw line with eight seconds left, hitting his first attempt and missing his second to send the game into OT.
In overtime, Eastern’s Mike Talley sank a free throw with 22 seconds left to give EMU a 55-54 lead. With four seconds left, an Eastern Michigan foul put Armstead at the line with four seconds left. He converted the second of his two attempts, which sent the game into double overtime.
In double OT, Threloff’s game-winning tip game two seconds after Darrell Bowie hit one of two free throws. He missed his second, and NIU got the rebound, giving the Huskies one final possession.