A hot-shooting Northern Illinois team ended No. 2 seed Toledo’s hopes of winning the Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament, as the Rockets fell to the No. 7 seeded Huskies, 80-76, in quarterfinal action Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.Sophomore guard Marreon Jackson scored 11 of his team-high 17 points, including several clutch plays down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the performance of NIU junior guard Eugene German. German scored 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting, one of several Huskies who shot the ball well. For the game, Northern Illinois (17-16) connected on 31 of 55 shots from the field (56.4 percent), including a sizzling 10 of 17 from three-point range.
Toledo (25-7) also shot the ball well, hitting 45.6 percent of its shots and knocking down 14 triples. But the Rockets were hurt by the absence of junior forward and leading rebounder Willie Jackson, who played just eight minutes, none in the second half, due to a migraine. UT was out-rebounded, 31-28, and missed Jackson’s low-post defense.
Joining Marreon Jackson in double figures were junior center Luke Knapke (16), senior forward Nate Navigato (15), senior guard Jaelan Sanford (13) and senior guard Chris Darrington (12).
Toledo trailed by two at the half, 41-39, and briefly led by two points early in the second half before Northern slowly pulled away. Marreon Jackson hit a three-pointer and a driving layup in the final minute to cut the lead to one, 76-75. NIU then made four free throws in the final 20 seconds to clinch the victory.
The Rockets will now have to wait until Sunday night to find out if they will get a berth into the a post-season tournament.