Northern Michigan University Wildcat men’s basketball team goes cold in 2nd half in loss to Lake Superior State

Isaiah Johnson

SAULT STE. MARIE — Northern Michigan University wasn’t able to keep up the solid shooting pace from early in the game and lost at Lake Superior State 77-60 in a battle for first place in the GLIAC men’s basketball North Division on Thursday.

After a 6-0 start to the league campaign, NMU has lost two straight and resides a game behind LSSU and Ferris State at 6-2 in the GLIAC, 9-6 overall. The Lakers and Ferris are each 7-1 in league, with LSSU 13-3 overall.

The Wildcats never trailed in the first half, building a lead of as many as 11 points, 31-20, when Isaiah Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 5:25 left. Despite LSSU going on a 10-0 run immediately after that, NMU still maintained a 40-38 advantage at halftime.

NMU made 46 percent (15 of 33) of its overall shots in the first half, including 53 percent (9 of 17) on 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes.

But the Lakers’ comeback that started late in the first half lost no momentum during the intermission.

Naba Echols

LSSU needed less than two minutes of the second half to take its first lead, 42-40, on a steal by Josh Goldschmidt and subsequent layup by teammate Lance Monroe. That was part of a 21-0 run that started late in the first half and ended with 12:33 to go when NMU’s Naba Echols broke the scoreless drought with a pair of free throws.

Northern trailed 57-42 at that point and never again got closer than 13 points.

After making around half its shots in the first half, the Wildcats nosedived to 22 percent (5 of 23) on all its shots in the final 20 minutes, including 14 percent (2 of 14) on triples.

The only bright spot was Northern making 9 of 10 free throws overall, including 8 of 9 in the second half.

Johnson led NMU scorers with 16 points, though only two points came in the second half despite his playing 17 minutes after the break. Naba Echols, in his first game back following an injury suffered during the holiday break, added 12 points, while Sam Taylor had 10 and Eddie Tornes nine.

Though not attempting a shot nor scoring, center Myles Howard led Northern rebounders with seven. Echols added five rebounds and Taylor a team-high five assists.

Lake State guard Akaemji Williams led all players with 18 points, nine assists and four steals and didn’t commit a turnover in 28 minutes playing time. The Lakers’ Blake Marquardt added 16 points and Michael Nicholson 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds as LSSU held a 40-29 rebounding edge.

NMU built its biggest first-half lead with a 9-0 run in just over two minutes following triples sank by Echols, Will Carius and Johnson.

The Wildcats look to get back in the GLIAC North race with a game at division coleader Ferris State in Big Rapids at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.