Rodgers dominates with game-high 29 points against BSU

On Northern Illinois' stat sheet, there is a promotional flyer for Leon Rodgers and his candidacy for Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. The flyer is titled "Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood." On Wednesday night, Worthen Arena was just that.

The senior guard poured in a game-high 29 points as the Huskies (12-14 overall, 8-9 MAC) ended Ball State's (18-10, 11-6) home MAC winning streak 69-68.

"I am happy to win here and just to beat Ball State," Rodgers said. "It was good for our program just to beat them going into the tournament. That's big motivation."

Rodgers shot 6-8 from the field in the first half, leading the Huskies on a 17-9 run in the half's final seven minutes, tying the game at 30. With nine minutes left in the game, Rodgers picked up his fourth foul and the Cardinals were in the midst of a run of their own led by the three-point shooting of junior guard Rob Robbins.

"The whole game we felt like we were playing with them, and when I got my fourth foul I was just worried about not falling far behind," Rodgers said.

Head coach Tim Buckley said Rodgers was a problem for which the Cardinals had no answer.

"We didn't have anyone who could guard him," Buckley said. "He did a great job, and they got him the ball. He scored whenever he got it."

Ball State guard Chris Williams scored a career-high 31 points against the Huskies in February in DeKalb. He was unable to repeat his performance Wednesday night. Northern Illinois held Williams to just five.

Rodgers' impact was also felt in another category - rebounding. He led the Huskies with 11 rebounds, eight on the defensive side.

"When Leon is focused, he really can play," Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson said. "The only thing he did wrong was have six turnovers. When he is focused, he is hard to stop."

At the start of the season, Judson was not sure if his Huskies were going to get a win all season. On Wednesday night, the first-year head coach said his team got the win that validates the Huskies' improvement.

"This was a group that started out 1-6, now I believe we are 11-8," Judson said. "This is a team that continued to grow and improve, and that is all you talk about."


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