Looking for answers

LSSU hands NMU men their fifth straight defeat

LSSU's C.J. Robinson, left, and Malek Adams, right, block Wildcat Isaiah Johnson during their game Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team is looking for answers right now.

After getting off to a great start this season, the Wildcats have now lost their fifth straight game, 86-66 to Lake Superior State Thursday night. The game was reasonably close during the second half until the Lakers caught fire and rolled to a surprisingly easy victory. The win was also LSSU’s 12th straight over the Wildcats and was Northern’s first home loss of the year.

Naba Echols led the Wildcats (8-6, 3-4 GLIAC) with 16 points and six rebounds, while Isaiah Johnson had 14 points and Sam Taylor had 12. Lake State’s Malek Adams led all scorers with 26 points and eight rebounds.

Northern was once again plagued by poor 3-point shooting and was outrebounded 41-26.

“With 3-point shooting, if you look at that game, we took a lot of threes, but we didn’t take many good ones,” NMU head coach Bill Sall said.

“There were very few extras and there were very few good shots. Then they made them and then of course, they got a lot of unguarded threes because we didn’t defend very well. So when you put those two pieces together, it makes it pretty tough.

“That certainly was part of it, but in reality, tonight, we’ve got to do some soul searching really quick because we got outhustled, outplayed and outworked in about every facet of the game.

“We’ve got to scratch through the surface to try to figure out what we’ve got to do to get back to where we were playing. Because right now, we’re not playing like we’re capable of playing, that’s for certain.”

The first half started well for the Wildcats as they scored the first two baskets of the game on jumpers by Myles Howard and Echols. However, the Lakers went on a seven-point surge to take a 14-7 lead with about 15 minutes left. With nine minutes remaining, LSSU had pushed its advantage to nine on a trey by Tim Cairnduff, but the Wildcats fought back. A triple from Taylor started a short run that helped get Lake State’s lead down to two and Northern eventually tied the game at 28-28 on a tip-in by Echols with just over four minutes left. Adams shut down NMU’s hopes of taking the lead though as he scored seven straight points to put the Lakers ahead at 35-28 with 2:32 remaining. LSSU then went into the break up 38-32.

NMU opened up the second half with a free throw by Troy Summers to pull within five of the Lakers at 38-33 and it traded baskets with Lake State for the first part of the half. LSSU’s C.J. Robinson hit a trey to make the game 44-35 Lakers, but Echols answered back with a triple to cut Lake State’s lead to six. When a media timeout happened with 14:25 left, LSSU was only up by eight at 46-38, but after that it was all Lakers.

Lake State went on a quick 10-0 run, highlighted by two triples from Robinson and just like that, the Lakers were up by double digits at 58-41. Echols tried to get the Wildcats back in the game with back-to-back layups, but Lake State wasn’t shaken. Adams and Jackson Schrameyer both hit treys and the Lakers’ lead was back up to 17 with nine minutes left. Lake State then cruised the rest of the way to get the 20-point victory.

Northern will try to end its skid Saturday when it hosts defending national champion Ferris State at 3 p.m.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.