Stewart scored on a four-point play to give Central Michigan a 17-13 lead and the Chippewas led the rest of the way. Aaric Armstead hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Northern Illinois within four points, 63-59 with 2:18 to play, but the Chippewas made 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch to seal it.
Rayson was 7 of 14 from the field, including three treys. Stewart finished on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed six boards. Chris Fowler scored 15 points and dished out eight assists for Central Michigan (10-16, 3-11 Mid-American).
Armstead finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Darrell Bowie scored 14 points and Daveon Balls added 10 for Northern Illinois (12-14, 6-8). Jordan Threloff chipped in eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Huskies.