A Huskie Stunner: NIU upsets No. 14 Buffalo on a last-second layup
DEKALB – One of the best moments of the College Basketball season to date came on a snowy, icy, then rainy night in North Central Illinois. The weather outside might have been frightful, but for fans of Northern Illinois basketball, it was quite delightful.
In one of the biggest upsets of the season and one of the biggest in Huskies’ history, the hosts stunned No. 14 Buffalo 77-75 at the NIU Convocation Center. The 1,284 fans who braved the conditions to make it to the game in DeKalb were rewarded with an ending fitting for the moment.
Tied at 75 with just over seven seconds left, Trendon Hankerson drove down the court to the wing, spun around, and found junior guard Noah McCarty open in the paint. He then took the ball to the hoop and put in the layup off the glass with just under a second to go.
It appeared that the Huskies initially won the game and fans started to rush the court, but a Buffalo was awarded a timeout with .6 seconds left. Jayvon Graves heaved a cross-court pass his own free throw line, but Northern Illinois guard Dante Thorpe caught it to end the game and kick off the celebration.
It’s certainly a monumental moment for head coach Mark Montgomery’s program, who picked up the biggest win since his tenure began in 2011. It’s just the third victory over a ranked opponent in program history and the first since February 3, 1973 when the Huskies knocked off then No. 19 Oral Roberts at Chicago Stadium.
The other came over 5th-ranked Indiana in DeKalb on January 4, 1972. Northern Illinois improved to 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference with the victory and 11-8 overall while handing the Bulls just their second loss of the season.
Thorpe led the way with 23 points for the Huskies while Eugene German had 20, and appeared to put a cap on the game when his layup with 1:26 left put the hosts up by seven. But Buffalo’s CJ Massinburg got hot in the final minute, scoring nine points, and his triple with 11 seconds left tied the game.
That only set up the dramatic game-winning pass from Hankerson then the victorious layup by McCarty, delivering Northern Illinois one of their best moments in program history.