Echols leads Wildcats’ late charge in 71-63 OT win

By Journal Sports Staff

ALLENDALE — That Northern Michigan University guard Naba Echols led all scorers Saturday afternoon with 21 points only begins to tell the story.

What the numbers don’t explain is that the junior scored 18 of the last 21 points for the Wildcat men’s basketball team in its 71-63 overtime victory over Grand Valley State on Saturday afternoon.

That included the Wildcats’ final 13 points in regulation, when he made a 3-pointer and completed a traditional three-point play while making 7 of 7 free throws in last five minutes of regulation.

He also hit another trey and made 2 of 3 free throws in OT as he finished the game 11 of 12 at the line with just one turnover in 36 minutes playing time.

While Echols provided the scoring, NMU junior forward Isaiah Johnson provided defense, pulling down 13 rebounds and blocking three shots while scoring 14 points. Teammate Will Carius added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Eddie Tornes scored 10 points.

After a back-and-forth opening 10 minutes, Northern (7-3, 4-0 GLIAC) established three different six-point leads before the Lakers (3-7, 0-4) came back to take a 29-28 lead at halftime.

GVSU retained that lead until Echols found his hot shooting touch late in regulation. His pair of free throws with 3:34 left tied the game 55-55, and after the Lakers’ re-established the lead, Echols’ 3-point jumper with 43 seconds left forced OT.

Echols made a layup and Johnson a triple 20 seconds apart to make it 68-63 NMU with 3:13 left in the extra period. Echols added three more free throws down the stretch to provide the cushion the Wildcats needed to win.

Led by Echols, Northern sizzled at the line, making 16 of 18 (89 percent), which more than made up for a 52-40 rebounding deficit.

With sophomore center Myles Howard joining Johnson in blocking three shots, NMU blocked nine altogether, the only other team stat that wasn’t just about equal between the teams.

The Wildcats take the next week off before hosting Michigan Tech at 1 p.m. next Sunday. The game is set to be televised on WLUC-TV6 or Fox-U.P.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is