ALBION - Northern Michigan University opened the Bill Sall era with a victory in his first regular-season game, a 75-62 win over Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) in the opening round of the Mike Turner Classic at Albion College.
Sall, named coach of the Wildcats during the off-season, lost an exhibition game to NCAA Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay last weekend.
On Friday, freshman guard Marcus Hall led NMU with 29 points as he made 12 of 13 free throws. Junior forward Justin Newell added 18 points and freshman forward Dorrell Foster 10 as the Wildcats shot 23 of 58 (39.7 percent) from the floor and 26 of 31 (83.9 percent) on free throws.
Foster led Northern rebounders with eight while Hall and sophomore forward Brandon Havercamp added seven apiece as NMU held a 45-29 edge on the boards.
The lead changed hands five times in the first half, though the Wildcats took the lead for good at 26-24 when Foster made a jump shot with less than a minute before halftime.
NMU opened the second half on a 7-0 run to jump out to a 35-24 lead and kept the advantage at nine points or better the rest of the way.
Caleb Williams led Mount Vernon, an NAIA school with a 3-3 record, with 18 points as the Cougars shot an identical 23 of 58 from the floor but only 9 of 18 from the line.
The tourney wraps up at 4 p.m. today against the winner of Friday's other game between host Albion and College of Faith.