Northern Michigan University basketball teams hit the road for GLIAC tourney opening games tonight
On the Air: No. 6 seeded NMU women at No. 3 Grand Valley State, 7 p.m. today, WUPZ 94.9 FM; No. 5 seeded NMU men at No. 4 Ashland, Ohio, 7:30 p.m. today, WUPT 100.3 FM
MARQUETTE — The postseason will begin and probably end for the Northern Michigan University basketball teams on the road.
Missing out on a home game in tonight’s quarterfinal round was particularly disappointing for the Wildcat men, who would’ve clinched that game at the Berry Events Center if they had beaten Wayne State on Saturday afternoon.
Instead, NMU (15-12, 12-8 GLIAC) lost and with Ashland’s victory over Northwood, the fourth-seeded Eagles (19-9, 12-8) got the last home spot. So the fifth-seeded Wildcats go to Ohio. On the bright side, this is the Wildcats’ first GLIAC Tournament berth in 11 years.
Northern lost to the Eagles by a single point at home in January. Guard Sam Taylor made a half-court shot at the buzzer, but because he wasn’t fouled, NMU didn’t get a chance for a four-point play to force overtime.
Fellow guard Naba Echols also didn’t play in that game and could be the piece that puts NMU over the top this time. Echols had a big game in Thursday’s win over Davenport and is fifth in the GLIAC in scoring at 17 points per game.
If he and teammate Isaiah Johnson (17.6 ppg) have strong performances, the Wildcats could move on to the GLIAC semifinals where they would take on top-seeded Ferris State if the other top seeds win tonight.
In the women’s tournament, the Wildcats have a little shorter drive today after earning their seventh straight league tournament berth.
The Wildcats (15-13, 11-9) are the No. 6 seed and play downstate in Allendale to take on Grand Valley State (23-5, 16-4). It won’t be easy to take down the Lakers, who are 12-1 at home and on a three-game winning streak. Northern has lost nine straight to GVSU, including a double-overtime defeat in December in Allendale.
On the plus side, the Wildcats are coming into the game with the momentum of a five-game win streak of their own.
Last week, NMU gave up only 44 points in a win over Davenport and held the Panthers scoreless for the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats outlasted Wayne State by one point on Saturday thanks to a last-second free throw by Sydney Dillinger.
Northern has come together recently, but it’s going to need to be at its best if it wants to earn a likely rematch against Upper Peninsula rival Michigan Tech in the semifinals on Saturday.
The women play at 7 p.m. Wednesday, while the men play at 7:30 p.m.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.