DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Northern Illinois caught Buffalo flat-footed just before the buzzer.
Reserve Noah McCarty got open in the paint, caught a pass and hit a layup with 2 seconds to play, and the Huskies upset the 14th-ranked Bulls 77-75 on Tuesday night. It was Northern Illinois’ first home victory over a ranked team in 47 years.
“I thought the guys put together a complete, 40-minute game,” Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery said. “I think it was the best game — and I’ve been here eight years — that I’ve been a part of. We grew up tonight.”
McCarty took a feed from Trendon Hankerson and banked in the game-winning shot just nine seconds after Buffalo had tied the game on C.J. Massinburg’s 3-pointer.
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Dante Thorpe scored 23 points and Eugene German had 20 points and 10 rebounds — his first career double-double — as Northern Illinois (11-8, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) ended a two-game skid.
The Huskies shot 50 percent (27 of 54) from the field, while the Bulls went 22 of 60 (36.7 percent). Northern Illinois also out-rebounded Buffalo 40-37.
“If we play with more effort, we win,” Buffalo coach Nate Oats said. “They played harder than us.”
Massinburg scored 23 points for the Bulls (17-2, 5-1 MAC), who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped. Jeremy Harris had 15 points, Nick Perkins added 12 and Jayvon Graves scored 10.
Buffalo went 9 for 30 (30 percent) from 3-point range.
“If we made one more, we win,” Oats said. “But it shouldn’t have come down to that.”
Northern Illinois’ last win over a ranked team anywhere was in 1973 over Oral Roberts at the Chicago Stadium. A year earlier, the Huskies beat No. 5 Indiana in DeKalb.
The Huskies have won two straight in the series, having snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Bulls in 2018.
“That’s two years in a row they’ve beaten us,” Oats said. “And they did it tonight with German playing only 24 minutes and he still scored 20 points.”
The Huskies led 73-66 with 1:26 remaining before Massinburg rallied Buffalo by scoring nine points in just over a minute, hitting two 3-pointers and making three free throws. Northern Illinois’ biggest lead was 10 points early in the second half.
Buffalo: The Bulls are ranked for the 11th straight week, tying a MAC record set by Bowling Green in the 1961-62 season. Buffalo was also the first MAC team to start 17-1 or better since Western Michigan opened 1975-76 with 19 consecutive victories.
Northern Illinois: German, the Huskies’ leading scorer, has now scored in double figures in 51 consecutive games and 64 of his 80 career appearances.
The teams combined for 50 fouls. The Huskies hit 19 of 24 free throws while the Bulls were 22 of 31 from the line. Massinburg and Thorpe each hit 9 of 10.
The Bulls were highest-ranked team ever to play at NIU’s 16-year-old Convocation Center. The 1972 win over Bob Knight-coached Indiana was at the old Chick Evans Field House. The last ranked team to visit NIU was No. 18 Temple in 2009.
Buffalo concludes a two-game trip on Friday at Kent State, part of a run of five of seven games away from home.
Northern Illinois visits Akron on Saturday.
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