Game Nudges NIU Toward Normalcy After Shootings

Basketball team hopes playing helps ease pain of tragic shooting
By Mitch Pritchard,  Newser User
Posted Feb 27, 2008 2:45 AM CST
Northern Illinois cheerleaders stand on the court during the national anthem before the start of a basketball game against Western Michigan in DeKalb, Ill., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. Five students at the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Western Michigan needed to beat Northern Illinois last night to keep its hopes alive for the Mid-America Conference championship, but the game itself was much more important for the Huskies and their fans, reports the Associated Press. Western Michigan won the contest 56-49, the first athletic event on the NIU campus since a gunman killed five students and himself on campus earlier this month.

"It should serve as some therapy for all of us," said NIU coach Ricardo Patton. David Kool led Western Michigan (17-10, 10-3) with 16 points, but most of the players and coaches acknowledged the game was secondary. "I couldn't even yell at the referees the way I wanted," said Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins, whose players wore patches honoring NIU.