Huskies upset Big Ten Badgers, 55-51

Updated 12/17/1985
DeKALB, IL (December 15) - The Northern Illinois University men's basketball team sped out to a 33-23 halftime lead and held on for a 55-51 win over the University of Wisconsin before 5,249 fans at Chick Evans Field House on Tuesday night.

It was the Huskies' first win over a Big Ten opponent since a 76-70 victory over Northwestern on December 17, 1985, snapping a seven-game losing streak to Big Ten teams. The game also marked the 500th all-time men's basketball game at Evans Field House, where NIU improved to 355-145 since 1957.

It was just a sensational effort by our guys in the 500th game at Evans Field House. It's a great thrill for us, said NIU head coach Brian Hammel. If it's not the best (win in my career), it's a short roll call. T.J. (Lux) summarized it well. It was an event. This was a special game for us. I'm just so pleased for our program.

It was awesome. To play Wisconsin, to play them at home, to fill Chick Evans, to beat them, and to see such fan support and exuberance was tremendous, said Lux, who was held to two points in the first half, but finished with nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Junior guards Stephen Jones and Mike Brown each tallied 11 points to lead the Huskies, with Jones making two free throws with 0:03.5 left to seal the win for NIU (5-2).

After trailing by 10 at the break, the Badgers (6-2) opened the second stanza with a 14-5 run to cut the Huskie advantage to one point, 38-37, at the 14:30 mark. But sophomore forward Leon Rodgers answered with a three-point play on a putback layup and a free throw to push the Huskie lead back to four points.

We appeared to panic at the end of both halves. They (NIU) didn't. They deserve a lot of credit for their effort and execution, said UW head coach Dick Bennett. We, simply, were rattled. We scored one point in our last 14 possessions.

I'm happy for Brian. His team played hard, said Bennett. I don't want to take anything away from Northern Illinois. I thought we looked like an undisciplined team.

The Badgers were led by junior guard Roy Boone, who scored a game-best 19 points and tied junior forward Mark Vershaw for team rebounding honors with seven. Boone was the lone UW player in double figures, but junior forward Andy Kowske came off the bench to score nine points, sophomore guard Travon Davis started and had eight, and Vershaw chipped in with seven.

As a team, NIU made 21-of-54 (.389) field goals, including 6-of-13 from three-point range. The Huskies were 6-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half, with Brown canning 3-of-4 attempts. The Huskies also held a 37-30 advantage on the glass. Wisconsin was 17-of-44 (.386) from the field and just 3-of-16 (.188) from three-point range.

The crowd was the largest at Evans Field House since 5,936 fans showed up for a game against Wisconsin-Green Bay on February 10, 1996.

The Huskies return to Mid-American Conference action on Saturday when they travel to the University of Buffalo for a 7:30 p.m. (EST) tipoff against the Bulls.