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January 14, 2012DeKALB, Ill. - Central Michigan suffered its first Mid-American Conference loss of the season on Saturday as Northern Illinois drained 10 first half three-pointers en route to a 74-66 win over the Chippewas.
Freshman Abdel Nader scored NIU's first 13 points and he finished with a career-best 22, including a 5-for-5 performance from the arc. All five of his treys came in the first half, helping the Huskies jump out to a 14-point lead at the break, 41-27.
"We were out-toughed today," coach Ernie Zeigler said. "Me making that statement is something that I struggle with. Congratulations to Coach Montgomery and his staff. Those are class guys and they just brought it to us from the opening tip. NIU was so much more physical than us. They beat us to every loose ball and long rebound."
CMU led early when Olivier Mbaigoto hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Chippewas a 12-10 lead nearly five minutes in.
However, NIU rattled off runs of 10-0 and 15-0 after that and the Huskie defense held Central without a field goal in the final 5:57 before the intermission.
CMU changed up its defense in the second half putting more pressure on the perimeter.
"Defensively we didn't have pressure on the ball in the first half," Zeigler said. "Our pressure in the second half held them to just five 3-point attempts and that gave us a chance to be more competitive.
"We were not locked in like we needed to be. But, when you look and they have two guys who go 9-for-9 from three between them, they are probably going to win."
In addition to Nader's hot shooting, Stian Berg was 4-for-4 from the arc for 12 points and the Huskies finished the game 12-for-19 from long range for 63 percent.
CMU trailed by as many as 16 in the second half and the Chippewas were able to cut it to nine with 1:50 to go. Central clawed within six points with 18 seconds left but that's as close as the Chippewas would get.
Four CMU players were in double figures with Trey Zeigler leading the way with 18 points. Derek Jackson added 16, Austin McBroom 15 and Mbaigoto 11.
CMU shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first half and finished with a .370 field goal percentage. NIU made 22 of its 40 shot attempts for a .550 field goal percentage.
The Huskies dominated the boards, 39-22.
Next up for the Chippewas is a home game against Ball State this Wednesday, Jan. 18. Tipoff in McGuirk Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Stick to ChippewaCountry for the latest in CMU athletics and recruiting
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