Northern Illinois stuns Washington 71-64 to open season
SEATTLE (AP) — Trendon Hankerson made six 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 28 points, and Northern Illinois was a winner in coach Rashon Burno’s debut stunning Washington 71-64 on Tuesday night.
Northern Illinois (1-0) built a 16-point first half lead, watched Washington (0-1) chip away and take a 52-51 advantage with 5:26 remaining and then outplayed its Power Five foe down the stretch.
“Coming here and beating a really good Washington team with size, athleticism, no one gave us a shot,” Burno said. “But I tell my guys it’s just the people that is in the circle, people in the locker room are the only ones that need to believe. And then these guys showed fortitude for 40 minutes.”
Hankerson’s fifth 3-pointer gave Northern Illinois a 54-52 lead and sparked a 13-2 run by the Huskies from the Mid-American Conference. Keshawn Williams added a 3 during the run and Hankerson’s sixth make from beyond the arc pushed the lead to 62-54 with 2:45 remaining.
Hankerson made 9 of 15 shots and was 6 of 11 on 3s. Anthony Crump added 11 points for Northern Illinois, who was 3-16 last season.
Terrell Brown Jr. led Washington with 22 points, but it was an awful shooting performance both from the field and the free-throw line for Washington.
Washington shot 26.7% from the field, was 3 of 18 on 3s and was 21 of 36 at the free-throw line.
It was an inauspicious start to what’s believed to be a make-or-break season for Washington coach Mike Hopkins coming off two straight seasons where his team was at the bottom of the Pac-12.
Hopkins was upset with Washington’s effort early as Northern Illinois built a big lead.
“This is on me. That team played harder than us the first part of the game. They played harder than us and that is unacceptable,” Hopkins said.
Nate Roberts had 10 points and a career-high 19 rebounds and took over on the interior for stretches of the second half before fouling out.
“I think it’s just really early. We’re still getting use to playing against other teams, other teams scouting us,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of things we need to fix.”
Washington brought in five key transfers all expected to be major contributors. But Brown was the only one to make an impact in the opener and Washington looked like a group that hasn’t played much together, especially at the offensive end where getting into any sort of flow and rhythm was a struggle.
Northern Illinois was picked to finish 12th in the MAC in Burno’s first season after spending the previous six seasons as an assistant at Arizona State. It was Northern Illinois’ first win over a Power Five program since beating Kansas State in 2005.
“We’ve got some grit and I’m happy about that,” Burno said. “By no means are we perfect. We’ve got some holes we need to figure out, some stuff that we need to do, but these guys will bend but won’t break.
Northern Illinois: Northern Illinois faces a brutal early schedule with its first six games away from home and the first three coming against Power Five opponents. The Huskies follow the trip to Washington with a game at Indiana and a matchup at Missouri.
Washington: The Huskies must be better shooting from the outside and will not be able to survive shooting 16.7% on 3-pointers.
Northern Illinois: At Indiana on Friday.
Washington: Hosts Northern Arizona on Thursday.
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