With 22 seconds left in the game, Eastern Michigan University turned to a wide-open Mike Talley on the baseline.
With two seconds on the shot clock, J.R. Sims’ inbounds pass found Talley and hit the long-range shot to put EMU ahead 55-52.
Talley finished with a game-high 21 points and talked about the inbounds play.
“I was actually shocked to see how open given that the play was intended for Glenn (Bryant),” Talley said. Glenn’s a high flyer and (NIU) anticipated it, so I ran to the open spot and knocked it down.”
Sims would split a pair of free throws to ice the game as EMU came from 13 points down in the second half to defeat Northern Illinois University 56-52, Saturday at the Convocation Center.
EMU head coach Rob Murphy gave his team credit for not throwing in the towel when down by double digits.
“I give our guys a lot of credit because we could have quit midway through the second half,” Murphy said. “We continued to dig deep and won the game, so we’re very fortunate.”
Darell Combs scored 11 on 6-of-6 from the foul line, 2-for-6 shooting and 1-of-3 from long distance.
For NIU (13-15, 7-9 Mid-American Conference West), Aaric Armstead led the way with 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in 35 minutes.
After putting together his first career double-double (27 points, 18 rebounds) against EMU on Feb. 20, Jordan Threloff finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“Give EMU credit for battling and pushing Threloff off of his spots,” NIU head coach Mark Montgomery said. “When a guy comes off of 27 and 18, (Threloff) is going to be a key factor when it comes to game planning.”
Combs scored the game’s first points from long range. NIU’s Travon Baker would respond on the next possession with a three-pointer from the top of the key.
After the Eagles scored the next five points, the Huskies would go on a 7-0 run highlighted by Daveon Balls’ layup to go ahead 10-8, which led to Murphy’s timeout.
EMU (17-12, 9-7 MAC West) came out of the timeout playing solid on both ends as it would go on an 8-2 run to go ahead by four with 8:21 left in the first half.
With the Eagles up 21-18, the Huskies would go on a 10-0 run which lasted 2:26.
Da’Shonte Riley picked up his third foul with 2:42 left in the first half, which forced him back on the bench.
Jalen Ross would split the two free throws with 1:33 left as Eastern went into the locker room down 28-22.
The first 7:23 of the second half saw EMU’s deficit grow to 13 at 43-30.
The Eagles would respond by going on a 14-2 run to pull within a point with 8:07 left.
Riley fouled out with 5:42 remaining as Threloff would make both free throws to put NIU up 50-44.
EMU ended the game on a 12-2 run highlighted by Talley’s game-winning shot from long distance.
Daylen Harrison fouled out with 7:41 left in the second half.
Raven Lee (food poisoning) did not play.
On March 4, Eastern will wrap up its regular-season home schedule against Ball State University.
In the teams’ first meeting on Feb. 12, EMU defeated Ball State 73-62 at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.
Raven Lee led all scorers with 24.
Ball State moved to 5-22 overall and 2-14 in the MAC West after defeating Central Michigan University 74-71 on Saturday.
Guard Jesse Berry led Ball State with 20 points on 8-of-10 at the free-throw line and 4-for-8 from three-point range.
Tip-off starts at 7 p.m.
Chad Bush and Sean Hostetter will have the call on WEMU 89.1 FM with pre-game coverage starting at 6:50 p.m.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.