DEKALB, IL (GreenBayPhoenix.com)- The 2017-18 season opened on the cold end for the Green Bay men’s basketball team, as it finished the game just 17-for-66 (25.8 percent) from the field, dropping its season-opener at Northern Illinois 85-65 on Tuesday night at the NIU Convocation Center. The Phoenix (0-1) came within four points early in the second half, after trailing by 13 at the break to the Huskies (1-0), but the cold shooting came back again midway through the second half as NIU was able to pull away down the stretch.
One of five NCAA Division I teams left in college basketball to not have played a game yet this season, Green Bay came out of the gate in the second half on fire making five of its first six shots and eventually cutting the deficit to only two points at the 11:41 mark. TJ Parham converted an and-one to get back the momentum, which proved to only be short lived as NIU followed with an 8-0 run.
The Phoenix would not get closer than eight points the rest of the game, with NIU leading by as many as 22 late in the second half.
Khalil Small registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, going a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line. The senior was unable to get the jumper going however, finishing 2-for-14 from the field.
Freshmen Trevian Bell (12p, 4r) and Manny Patterson (11p, 6r) gave solid minutes off the bench in their first collegiate game. The two also combined to go 9-for-13 at the charity stripe.
Parham was the other player to finish in double figures, recording 11 points in 24 minutes of action.
The officials kept their whistles busy throughout the evening, calling a total of 56 fouls in the game. Green Bay did finish a solid 24-for-29 (82.8 percent) at the free throw line which was a bugaboo last year, but also committed 18 turnovers in the game.
The RP40 style of play was kept at bay by NIU, as GB wasn’t able to ever get out in the open floor and run in transition. The Huskies actually dominated the fast break points category, 16-2, and dominated in the paint at 38-20.
The Phoenix missed its first nine shots to open the game, not scoring its first points of the season until 15:22 in the first half thanks to a Patterson and-one. GB kept it close early on, and even led by five at the 10:58 point of the first half. NIU would get the lead back at 9:34 and hold the lead the rest of the game.
The Huskies were led by a 28-point effort from Levi Bradley, who went 10-for-14 from the field and 7-for-7 at the free throw line. Eugene German added 21 points and nine rebounds, while Dante Thorpe (14 points) and Lacey James (10 points) also finished in double-figures.
The loss marks just the second time in the last eight years Green Bay has not started 1-0. With the win, NIU also snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Phoenix in the all-time series, which surprisingly hasn’t been renewed since 2007.
Green Bay will return to Titletown for its home-opener this Friday night when it hosts Lakeland for a 7 p.m. tip at the Resch Center.