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February 26, 2012

CMU holds off NIU, 74-64

Derek Jackson's 19 points led a balanced offensive attack while Central Michigan's defense was able to hold off Northern Illinois, 74-64, in Mid-American Conference West Division action Sunday afternoon.

Jackson hit a trio of three-pointers during a 20-3 run when the Chippewas (9-19, 4-10 MAC) pulled ahead for a 16-point lead with 6:09 left in the first half, and the defense did the rest maintaining a double-digit lead for a majority of the remainder of the game.

"I was extremely pleased with how we played defensively," head coach Ernie Zeigler said. "We got back to executing and carrying out our game plan. Austin McBroom had a heck of a game with his pressure on the ball."

The run spanned just over eight minutes as Central held the Huskies (3-24, 2-12 MAC) to just one field goal during the stretch that resulted in a 33-17 advantage. The Huskies got back on track with back-to-back threes that sparked an 8-0 run, then banked in another three at the halftime buzzer to go into the locker room down nine, 39-30.

In the second half, the Huskies shot just 10-of-30 as the Chippewas held their first opponent under 40 percent shooting since doing so in the season's first six games.

"Our ball pressure was really good," said Zeigler. "The first time we played them they were just knocking down shots and we were trying to keep them out of the lane. If we (keep teams under 40 percent shooting) we feel we give ourselves a good chance, and we out-rebounded them which was one of their strengths coming in. It was just a very good team effort defensively."

The Chippewas led by as many as 15, 52-37 with 13:05 to go, before having to fend off two Northern Illinois threats. The Huskies came within seven at the 4:00 mark and within six, 64-58, two minutes later. After a pair of free throws by Andre Coimbra pushed the lead back to eight, Auston Barnes grabbed an offensive rebound on the next possession and kicked it out to Jackson for his fourth three-pointer of the game, giving Central an 11-point cushion with 1:19 left.

Jackson shot 5-of-11 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from long range, and hit five of his 10 free throws, contributing to the team's season-best 40 attempts at the line. He led four players in double figures as McBroom and Trey Zeigler both scored 14 points and Coimbra added 10. Zeigler grabbed a team-best seven rebounds and Barnes pitched in a career-high six as the Chippewas had a 40-34 edge on the boards.

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