VALPARAISO, Ind. – Northern Illinois started two true freshmen and two sophomores in Tuesday morning’s game at Valparaiso.
On the other end, the Crusaders had five senior starters, and the experience showed as Valparaiso ran away with an easy, early-morning 69-46 win.
Despite shooting just 19 percent from the field in the first half, the Huskies (0-2) trailed by only six at the break. NIU had a lot of trouble getting open shots against the Valpo (2-0) defense, and too often the Huskies took poor shots. NIU was 19 for 65 from the field (29 percent) for the game.
Second-year Huskies coach Mark Montgomery is faced with a challenge this season, having such a young team. After the game, which started at 7 a.m. and was part of the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, Montgomery said some of the poor shooting is because of confidence with his young team.
Montgomery did say the first half didn’t affect his team’s defense, which held the Crusaders to 35 percent shooting at the break, and kept the Huskies in the game.
“In some situations you [need] some confidence. You’d like to see the first couple balls go in, help your confidence,” Montgomery said. “But you know, we’re a young team. So, what I liked about our club was, we didn’t let our poor offense take away from good defense. We held them to [35 percent] shooting in the first half, problem was, we shot [19 percent]. So, we didn’t let our offense affect our defense, we just wish some of those shots would go down early.”
The Huskies’ leading scorer was junior Aksel Bolin, who had 10 points and added nine rebounds.