Men’s basketball: Walk-on Steven Tipton, NIU stun Toledo

Northern Illinois’s Steven Tipton (22) shoots the ball while being defended by Ohio’s Aidan Hadaway (10) during the game on Saturday Feb. 24, 2024, held at The Convocation Center in DeKalb.

Coach Rashon Burno praised Steven Tipton after Northern Illinois University’s lopsided loss Saturday to Ohio.

On Tuesday, the sophomore walk-on guard hit a pair of free throws down the stretch, backing up David Coit’s 27-point performance in a 75-72 upset win at Toledo.

Because of injuries, the Huskies had only seven scholarship players in the lineup.

“These guys have been beaten up, lost confidence, but they have stayed together,” Burno said. “This team has been battling unbelievable adversity, but this has been a resilient group. The numbers are not what we thought they would be this year, but we still have games left to go out and compete.

“We stuck together. We have nothing to lose. You have to go out and compete, and that’s the only thing I care about.”

Will Lovings-Watts had his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Oluwasegun Durosinmi scored a career-best 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting.

NIU (10-18, 4-11 MAC) overcame a nine-point halftime deficit in a game that featured three ties and nine lead changes.

Yanic Konan Niederhauser gave the Huskies a 70-67 advantage with 1:57 left.

Toledo (17-11, 11-4 MAC) scored to make it a one-point game again, only to see Coit knock down his sixth 3 of the night, giving the Huskies a 73-69 lead with 1:12 remaining. Following an empty possession by both teams, the Rockets made a basket to get within 73-72 with 26.1 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, NIU got the ball across half court before Tipton was fouled with 16.3 seconds left. Despite having not taken a shot in 10 minutes of action, Tipton calmly made both free throws to give the Huskies a three-point lead.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Huskies. Xavier Amos did not play after sustaining an unspecified injury in the 80-59 home loss to Ohio on Saturday, the latest in a long line of injuries. The list includes Keshawn Williams, who played just 14 minutes this season before re-injuring his knee. The injury initially caused him to miss almost a year.

The Huskies also were without regular starters Philmon Gebrewhit and Zarique Nutter. Amos, Nutter and Gebrewhit have started a combined 61 games this season. Niederhauser and Coit have also combined to miss six games this year.

The Huskies are three games out of the final spot in the MAC tournament with three games to play and two other teams ahead of them in the standings.

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