No longer unbeaten: Northern Michigan University Wildcats men’s basketball streak ends at Hillsdale Sunday after a home win on Friday
MARQUETTE — After playing three games in four days and a total of five games in nine days to open the season, the men’s basketball team at Northern Michigan University finally suffered a loss on Sunday at Hillsdale.
The Wildcats still sit 4-1 after posting a 90-86 overtime victory at home over Concordia-St. Paul on Friday before the 74-53 setback on the Chargers’ floor in the far southern Lower Peninsula on Sunday.
NMU has two more nonconference road games this weekend before starting its GLIAC campaign, also away from home, in just over a week.
Northern goes to Minnesota to face St. Cloud State at 2 p.m. EST Saturday and Minnesota-Duluth at 2 p.m. EST Sunday. Then the Wildcats travel to Hammond, Indiana, to play Purdue Northwest for their league opener at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Here’s a roundup of NMU’s two most recent games:
NMU 90, Concordia-St. Paul 86
On Friday at the Berry Events Center, Northern’s Max Bjorklund continued to shine with his scoring, pumping in 34 points including nine of the Wildcats’ 16 points in OT.
Bjorklund has reached at least 30 points three times in five games with a per-game average of 24.4.
On this night, he made 13 of 22 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers, while adding a team-high five rebounds to go with two assists.
He offset a similar night by CSP’s Antwan Kimmons, who led all scorers with 35 as he hit on 14 of 25 from the field with four steals.
Bjorklund got scoring help, too, as the NMU’s Brian Parzych scored 22 points, making 9 of 9 free throws to go with five rebounds and a team-high four assists.
The Wildcats’ Carson Smith put in 11 points as he had four steals and four rebounds, while teammate Dylan Kuehl was the third NMU player with five rebounds as he made two blocked shots and scored five points while making all the various shots he tried.
Northern jumped out to a 5-0 lead on layups by Smith and Bjorklund, the latter’s being a “traditional” three-point play with a free throw.
But the Bears quickly caught up and took a 10-9 lead, setting the tone for the rest of the first half as the teams traded the lead multiple times.
When Sam Privet made a layup with 4:17 to go, it gave NMU a 31-29 lead it kept until halftime, when it was 39-33.
CSP wouldn’t take the lead again until 9:07 remained in regulation, 56-55 on a John Grigsby triple.
Its lead was short-lived as Bjorklund hit five baskets and scored 11 points in less than three minutes to give NMU a 66-61 advantage with 6:06 to go.
The Bears played catchup again, this time taking the lead for most of the rest of regulation.
NMU came back to tie it 72-72 on a pair of Bjorklund free throws with 1:05 left, then tied it one last time 74-74 on a Bjorklund jumper with 23 seconds remaining.
That set the stage for a high-scoring overtime.
Bjorklund scored Northern’s first five points of the extra period, though his jumper with 2:22 left was only good enough to tie it 79-79.
Parzych made a pair of freebies with 1:26 to go to put his team up 81-79, while CSP got its last lead at 84-83 with 34 seconds remaining on a Kimmons three-point play.
Kuehl answered with his own three-point play 10 seconds later, and with another pair of free throws by Parzych with seven seconds to go, NMU led 88-84.
Kimmons made a layup to cut it back to two with three seconds left, but Bjorklund foiled the Bears’ fouling strategy by making a pair of free throws with no time coming off the clock for the final margin.
On Sunday at Hillsdale, the Wildcats struggled to score against the No. 16 Chargers, making just 35 percent from the field (21 of 60), including 14% on 3-pointers (3 of 22).
Bjorklund led NMU scorers, but had just 11 points as he made 4 of 11 from the field, missing both his triple tries, while snaring four rebounds.
Parzych added 10 points along with team highs of seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Hillsdale, meanwhile, got 26 points from Jack Gohlke, who made 8 of 13 triples.
The Chargers hit on 14 of 27 treys (52 percent) as they broke open a close game at halftime by outscoring Northern 38-20 in the second half.
In the first half, NMU built its biggest lead, 20-13, with 8:53 left on a Smith 3 before Hillsdale slowly worked its way back, tying it 31-31 on a Charles Woodhams jumper with 2:03 to go and taking a 36-33 halftime lead.
The Wildcats made it a one-possession game several times near the start of the second half before Hillsdale began opening up it lead.
The former GLIAC member’s advantage reached double digits, 48-38, on a Gohlke triple with 14:05 left and never fell below that level again.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is email@example.com.