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Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team splits in Illinois

LEBANON, Ill. — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team began the Matt Majkrzak era with a split of two games at the GLIAC-Great Lakes Valley Conference Challenge at McKendree University in Illinois.

The Wildcats defeated Lewis 76-63 before falling to host McKendree 69-46.

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NMU 76, Lewis 63

On Saturday, the Wildcats were ready to prove wrong the prediction of being picked last in the GLIAC North Division preseason poll.

Northern used a strong second half to defeat Lewis as Alec Fruin led the way with 17 points, while Dolapo Olayinka had 13 and Marcus Matelski 12.

Ben Wolf and Sam Taylor added 11 and 10 points, respectively, coming off the bench. Northern was also good defensively as it scored 20 points off 16 Lewis turnovers.

The Wildcats started off hot in the second half, knocking down five triples, two of them from Fruin and Olayinka. NMU held a 40-32 advantage five minutes into the half, but the Flyers cut its deficit to three at 40-37. Matelski then ended that brief Lewis run with a trey and the Wildcats kept the Flyers at bay the rest of the way.

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McKendree 69, NMU 46

On Sunday, Taylor led the Wildcats with 11 points while Fruin had nine and freshman Xzavier Jones eight.

Olayinka pulled down a team-high six rebounds, while Fruin, Jones and senior Myles Howard each had five. In addition, Howard and Wolf each made two blocked shots.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg and Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. Email them at sports@miningjournal.net.