YPSILANTI– First year Northern Illinois University head coach Mark Montgomery has had a hard season with mostly underclassman. His pair of Norwegian sharpshooters got hot at the right time as NIU nipped Eastern Michigan 55-52 in the Mid-American Conference playoffs. NIU goes on to Cleveland where the action will take place through the weekend and the MAC Final will be televised on ESPN on Saturday.
Fox Sports Ohio will televise the MAC quarterfinals and semi’s Thursday and Friday respectively.
NIU (5-25) went to half-time with a 18-11 lead over EMU (14-18). The second half had the Huskies shooting three’s and they were 9-21 for the game. Norwegian Nationals, freshman Stian Berg was 2-5 and sophomore Aksel Bolin shot 3-4 from beyond the three point arch to keep the Eagles in check. “I thought our defense was very good in the first half, maybe the best it has been all season,” said Montgomery.
EMU junior guard Derek Thompson got it to 55-52 with a three with only 12 seconds left. NIU missed a one-on-one foul opportunity and it gave EMU a last chance opportunity. Jamell Harris took a centered up three-point field goal attempt to tie the game at the buzzer. Most of the arena stood as his shot hit the backboard, bounced several times around the rim and finally spun out of the cylinder, ending the Eagles hopes for a last-second tie.
It was the last game for senior center and Polish National Kamil Janton who started for EMU. The contest was the first road win of the year in 15 attempts for Northern Illinois. They were led by junior Tony Nixon with 14 points while Bolin added 13. Two free throw made by Bolin with 29 second left was critical for the NIU victory.
Senior guard Darrell Lampley also closed out his EMU career with 13 points and six assists while Jamell Harris added 13 points with eight rebounds.