The Seattle University men's basketball team stifled the Northern Illinois offense in the first half, forcing missed shots and turnovers, on its way to a 60-48 victory Saturday afternoon in an ESPNU BracketBuster game at the NIU Convocation Center.
Cervante Burrell (Sacramento, Calif.) led Seattle U with 17 points, plus he pulled down seven rebounds, dished out three assists, and earned two steals. Aaron Broussard (Federal Way, Wash.) finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, and three steals, while Alex Jones (Phoenix, Ariz.) contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.
"Anytime we can go on the road and have some success, we are excited about it. My guys competed, especially defensively and on the boards, and scrapped to get a good lead early in the first half, maintain it throughout the game, and finish it," head coach Cameron Dollar said.
Seattle U took advantage of poor shooting and ball handling from Northern Illinois to build a lead in the first half, going on runs of 15-2 and 9-0 during the period. The Huskies shot only 13.8 percent from the field in the first half, including missing all 10 three-point attempts, and committed 10 turnovers before halftime.
Northern Illinois (7-18) cut into the lead in the second half thanks in part to Michael Patton, who scored six unanswered points to bring the Huskies to within 15 at 39-24 with 12:47 remaining. After Seattle U extended its lead again to 21 at 50-29, Northern Illinois made one final push, cutting its deficit to 11 at 52-41 with 3:15 left in regulation, but the Redhawks went 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the final three minutes to ice the game.
Patton shot 7-of-9 from the field to lead the Huskies with 15 points, while Antone Christian contributed 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Xavier Silas, fifth in the country in scoring by averaging 23.5 points per game coming into the contest, was held to six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field thanks in large part to the defense of senior Garrett Lever (Phoenix, Ariz.).
Seattle U won the rebounding battle, 41-37, and shot a season-best 80.6 percent from the free throw line (25-of-31). The Redhawks did struggle from the field, making only 30.9 percent of their field goal attempts, including 1-of-9 from behind the three-point line, and committed 13 of their 17 turnovers in the second half.
Northern Illinois improved its field goal percentage after halftime, finishing the game by making 33.3 percent (19-of-57) of its field goal attempts, including 3-of-17 from behind the three-point line. The Huskies committed 21 turnovers in seeing their losing streak extended to seven games.
Seattle University (10-16) heads back home and welcomes the University of Washington to KeyArena at Seattle Center Tuesday, Feb. 22, for a 7:10 p.m. tipoff. Tickets are still available for the first Seattle U home game against the Huskies in over 30 years at Ticketmaster.com, local Fred Meyer locations, and at the KeyArena Box Office. Seattle U fans are also encouraged to go to Jimmy's on Broadway for the Cameron Dollar Show presented by State Farm Monday, Feb. 21, from 8-9 p.m., broadcast on 710 ESPN Seattle.