GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- With Wisconsin-Green Bay's leading scorer on the bench with foul trouble, the Phoenix needed someone else to step up on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Tillema answered the call.
The junior guard scored 21 of his career-high 33 points in the second half and pulled down eight rebounds to lead Green Bay past Northern Illinois 86-75 on Saturday afternoon."In the beginning I was kind of struggling so I was just trying to find ways to get myself involved in the offense," said Tillema, who came into the game averaging just 8.1 points. "In the second half when shots started falling it feels good, you start looking for your shot more and more and sometimes it's just like a snowball effect."Mike Schachtner, Green Bay's leading scorer who sat out much of the second half with four fouls, added 18 points in just 26 minutes for Green Bay (7-4).Darion Anderson came off the bench to lead Northern Illinois (2-9) with 15 points and five assists. Michael Patton added 14 points and Michael Hart had 11.The Phoenix was badly out of sync on offense in the early going, with only four field goals and 15 points over the first 12:40 of the first half.But Green Bay outscored Northern Illinois 22-9 over the final 7:20 and went into halftime leading 37-31 thanks to Tillema's buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Green Bay never trailed in the second half."Tonight I really liked our intensity, our grit, but we played very sloppy," Green Bay coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "So it's nice to get a win when you play sloppy. They kind of make you play that way and that's a credit to them because they're a good defensive team and a well-coached team."Northern Illinois didn't go quietly in the second half, however, cutting the Phoenix lead to four on multiple occasions.But after the Huskies closed to within 56-52 at the 11:15 mark of the second half, five points by Tillema sparked a quick 7-0 run to give the Phoenix a double-digit lead.Terry Evans scored 10 points, including an off-the-backboard alley-oop dunk from Rahmon Fletcher that seemed to put an exclamation point on the second half for the Phoenix.Randy Berry also added eight points and eight rebounds for Green Bay before fouling out.A total of 53 fouls in the game made it difficult for either side to get into a rhythm, but the Phoenix took advantage of the situation by hitting 28-of-33 free throws (85 percent) compared to just 16-of-26 (62 percent) for Northern Illinois."Obviously (them making) 28 of 33 free throws certainly sealed the deal," said Northern Illinois first-year coach Ricardo Patton. "Sixty-one percent free-throw shooting for our team, I don't know if you can expect to beat anyone shooting that poorly."The Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and won the only home game it played in the month of December. Green Bay closes 2007 with a game at Michigan State next Saturday.With its 12th straight win against the Huskies, Green Bay continued its domination in the series between the two teams. The Phoenix is 24-5 all-time against Northern Illinois, including winning 21 of the past 22 games in the series.