Dec. 1, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - Senior Lamar Sanders recorded his first double-double of the season, but a buzzer beating tip-in by Egan Grafel gave Northern Illinois a come-from-behind 65-63 win over Lamar University in non-conference men's basketball action at the Convocation Center.
Lamar, who lost for the fifth-straight time, dropped to 1-5 on the season. NIU improved to 1-6 on the season. The Cardinals return home for a pair of games next week beginning with Tuesday's 7 p.m. game against visiting St. Gregory's.
With the game tied at 61-61, Lamar missed four straight field goal attempts over a 2:53 stretch. A jumper by Jeremy Landers gave NIU at 63-61 lead with 1:04 remaining in the game. Senior Darren Hopkins missed a layup on the Cardinals' next possession and Shaun Logan missed for NIU with 12 seconds remaining.
Junior Kenny Dawkins drove the length of the floor and hit a driving layup with :08 left that tied the game at 63-63. NIU's Sean Smith's 15-foot jumper from the right baseline caromed off the rim, but Grafel crashed the boards and tipped-in the miss just before the horn sounded. After initially waving off the basket, the three officials huddled around the courtside monitor and agreed that the ball was out of Grafel's hand before the horn sound.
"I give Northern Illinois credit," said Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte in the post-game press conference. "They played hard and had a good game plan. NIU's zone gave us trouble in the second half. We were getting good looks, but we couldn't get anything to go down.
"We've started every game this year pretty good, but we are not playing well in the last five minutes. In the five games we've lost, we had a chance to win in the last five games. We just aren't finishing."
The Cardinals have been plagued with long scoring lapses in the second half of games this season and that trend continued. Dawkins nailed a three-pointer and hit a layup on consecutive possession to give Lamar a nine-point lead, 57-48, with 12:13 remaining in the game.
That's when Lamar went as cold as the sub-freezing temperatures outside. The Cardinals missed 11 straight shots from the field and went scoreless until Lawrence Nwevo's jumper at 5:55. That's a drought of 6:18.
Lamar started the game fast and built as much as a 15-point lead, 38-23, on a pair of Sanders free throws at 1:53. NIU closed the half on a 7-0 run and trimmed the Cardinals' lead to 38-30 at halftime.
Dawkins led the Cardinals with 16 points on 6 of 15 shooting from the field, including 2 of 7 from three-point range. Sanders recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points and a season-high 10 rebounds. Justin Nabors added nine points and six rebounds.
Lamar shot 39.7 percent (23-of-58) from the field, 25 percent (6-of-24) from 3-point range and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the free throw line. The Cardinals forced 23 NIU turnovers.
Logan led NIU with 17 points on 8 of 17 shooting from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds to register a double-double. Landers added 14 points and Grafel chipped in 10.
NIU shot 45.9 percent (28-of-61) from the field, 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from 3-point range and 50 percent (6-of-12) from the free throw line. The Huskies outrebounded Lamar 39 to 32. NIU outscored the Cardinals 42-26 in points in the paint.