Northern Michigan University Wildcats men’s basketball team has mixed bag in Alaska trip

Marcus Matelski

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Some residents of the Upper Peninsula go on long trips for Thanksgiving weekend, but the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team went about as far away from home as it could and still stay in North America.

All in all, it was a mixed weekend for the Wildcats in Alaska for the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic held in Anchorage.

NMU opened by blowing out Alaska-Fairbanks 95-45 in the Northern’s largest margin of victory against an NCAA Division II opponent since beating Wayne State 110-51 in 1990.

Then the Wildcats fell behind in the opening 20 minutes as a second-half rally fell short in a 84-76 loss to event host Alaska-Anchorage.

NMU (3-3) returns to Marquette for a game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday that serves as both its home and GLIAC opener at the Berry Events Center against Northwood. The Wildcats finish their home weekend with a 1 p.m. Saturday game against Saginaw Valley State.


NMU 95, Alaska-Fairbanks 45

On Friday, Northern built up a 10-4 lead with the help of two layups by Troy Summers, then after Alaska cut its deficit to 10-8, Marcus Matelski hit a trey and Sam Taylor put in a layup between two Nanooks buckets to make the score 15-12 near the midpoint of the first half. NMU built its lead to nine points, 21-12, with a six-point run and held a 25-15 advantage with seven minutes left.

Two baskets from Noah Parcher and an alley-oop dunk from Taylor to Dolapo Olayinka helped Northern pad its lead to 39-18 with just over three minutes left in the half as the Wildcats took a 42-23 advantage into the break.

NMU then broke the game open in the second half with a 14-0 run, highlighted by two treys from Matelski and triples from both Taylor and Ben Wolf. The Wildcats held a 58-27 lead with less than 13 minutes left and never looked back.

Taylor and Parcher each finished with 14 points, while Olayinka had 11 points and Matelski had nine. Taylor also dished out a career-high seven assists.


Alaska-Anchorage 84, NMU 76

On Saturday, the Wildcats led 10-4 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Parcher and Myles Howard. Then Anchorage fought back, taking a double-digit advantage with 8:37 left in the first half and making it 46-31 at the break.

Northern rallied, though, in the second half. The Wildcats gradually whittled their deficit to three points, 72-69, with three minutes remaining with the help of triples from Matelski, Taylor and Naseer Turner. However, the Seawolves caught fire and went on a 8-0 run to rebuild its double-digit lead and close out the victory.

Five Wildcats finished in double figures with Matelski leading the way with 17 points. Alec Fruin had 15, while Howard, Taylor and Turner scored 10 apiece.

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


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)