Wildcats come up just short

NMU men fall to Wayne State, will play at Ashland in first round of GLIAC?Tournament

NMU men fall to Wayne State, will play at Ashland in first round of GLIAC Tournament

By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team had a chance to lock up its first postseason home game in more than a decade Saturday afternoon, but it came up short.

The Wildcats fell to Wayne State 71-70 at the Berry Events Center, so that loss combined with Ashland’s victory over Northwood sends NMU (15-11, 12-7 GLIAC) on the road for the first round of the GLIAC Tournament. Northern, the No. 5 seed, will play at No. 4 Ashland Wednesday.

Naba Echols led the Wildcats with 25 points, while Will Carius had 22 and Isaiah Johnson had 14.

NMU pulled within one point of the Warriors (14-10, 12-7) with a minute remaining, but ultimately, ran out of time. WSU missed two free throws with a few seconds left and during a loose ball scramble, the Warriors got the ball with 0.3 seconds left.

After WSU missed a free throw, Northern got the rebound, but the clock ran out before it could get off a buzzer-beating shot.

WSU got off to a hot start and a 7-0 run midway through the first half gave the Warriors a 22-9 lead.

However, the Wildcats rallied back. Carius and Marcus Matelski hit back-to-back treys and another triple from Johnson cut NMU’s deficit to three with six minutes left.

Northern took its first lead of the game at 36-35 with less than two minutes left in the half on another 3-pointer by Johnson. After the Warriors scored four straight points, Carius put in two free throws and a Johnson layup put the Wildcats up 40-39 at the break.

In the second half, the Warriors got off to another good start and held a 58-47 advantage with 11:37 remaining.

However, the Wildcats didn’t give up and slowly whittled down WSU’s lead. Carius hit a triple to make the game 66-60 with six minutes left and later, a layup from Echols made the game 70-66. After the Warriors made a three throw, Carius sank a jumper and Echols put in two free throws to cut Northern’s deficit to 71-70, but that’s the closest the Wildcats could get.

Northern plays at Ashland at 7:30 pm. Wednesday. The Wildcats fell to the Eagles by one point back in January in Marquette.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.