The NIU men’s basketball team picked up its third straight win, knocking off host Georgia State 70-64 in the first game of the Capitol Challenge on Friday afternoon in Atlanta.
The Huskies (3-1) picked up the win despite most of their front line battling foul trouble. Zarique Nutter, Yanic Konan Niederhauser and Harvin Ibarguen each picked up four fouls. Konan Niederhauser was limited to 14 minutes, while Nutter, also a starter, played less than 30 but still scored 22 with six rebounds.
David Coit added 20 for the Huskies and Philmon Gebrewhit chipped in 11. Ibarguen had a team-best nine rebounds.
“Today was a challenge,” NIU head coach Rashon Burno said. “We didn’t play well as a team offensively, but defense carried us. We held a team that has averaged in the 80s to 64 [points], 30 [%] from the field, 22 [%] from three. But we have to do a better job offensively. I thought [Georgia State’s] aggression took us out of rhythm.
“This was a team win, similar to App State. We knew going in, being at home, [Georgia State] was going to be physical. They just beat Western Michigan on the road, and they were physical, so we needed everybody to step up, and I’m happy for our guys. Similar to App State, we got down, but we didn’t fold.”
NIU trailed 55-54 with 5:43 left in the game, but Coit took only 20 seconds to slash his way to the bucket to put the Huskies, who led for more than 26 minutes in the game, back on top for good.
Coit’s bucket kicked off a 10-0 run over the next three minutes. Georgia State (1-2) never got within six the rest of the way in the first meeting between the schools.
NIU wraps up the challenge at 1 p.m. Saturday against Little Rock. The Trojans are 2-1 in the series, including a 2021 win at the Jacksonville Classic.