Johnson’s 30 points not enough as NMU men drop fourth straight

By Journal Sports Staff

ASHLAND, Ohio — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team went into the holiday break on a low note with back-to-back losses and that streak has now extended into the new year.

The Wildcats’ skid hit four games Saturday as their upset bid fell short against No. 10 Ashland 67-60, despite getting 30 points from Isaiah Johnson. Drew Noble led the Eagles (13-0, 6-0 GLIAC) with 26 points, while Naba Echols chipped in 11 points for NMU.

Northern (8-5, 3-3) was plagued by poor shooting from beyond the arc, going 3 for 16 and was heavily outrebounded, 38-21.

The game went back-and-forth in the opening minutes before NMU got back-to-back layups from Johnson and Troy Summers put the Wildcats ahead 11-7. Sam Taylor and Johnson both hit 3-pointers to extend Northern’s lead to 17-7 with 11:42 left in the first half.

Ashland tied the game at 17-17 with 5:30 remaining and later, the Eagles scored six straight points to close out the half with a 29-23 advantage.

Northern rallied to tie the game at 29-29 less than three minutes into the second half and grabbed the lead with two free throws from Johnson at 33-32 with 15:45 left.

The Wildcats went on a short run to extend their lead to 38-32 with 14 minutes left, but the Eagles rallied to take the lead at 40-39 with 11:53 left.

NMU snatched the lead back on a layup and free throw from Johnson and padded its advantage to 50-44 with seven minutes remaining with four points from Johnson and a dunk from Myles Howard.

However, Ashland rallied back and the game was tied at 54-54 with 3:27 left to play. The Eagles put in a bucket to take a 61-58 lead, but Echols dropped in a layup to cut Northern’s deficit to 61-60 with 1:30 remaining.

Ashland wouldn’t be denied though as it closed out the game with six straight points.

The Wildcats host Lake Superior State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

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