Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team keeps pace near top of GLIAC with win over Wayne State, 63-58

Northern Michigan University's Sam Schultz, center, vies for the ball with Wayne State's Ray Williams Jr., left, as the Warriors' Antonio Marshall watches the play during their GLIAC men's basketball game played at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Saturday. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University used a long and winding comeback to overcome a 17-point first-half deficit and defeat Wayne State 63-58 in a GLIAC men’s basketball game played Saturday at the Berry Events Center.

The victory keeps the Wildcats in the thick of the hunt at the top of the conference, now at 9-4 tied with Ferris State for second place and a game behind league leader Wisconsin-Parkside at 10-3.

The Rangers held onto the league lead they took alone on Thursday after dispatching another former second-place team, Lake Superior State, 82-79, on Saturday. The Lakers are now in fourth place at 8-5, with Grand Valley State another half-game back at 7-5.

Ferris State beat Purdue Northwest 85-75 on Saturday, while Grand Valley took care of Davenport 87-61.

NMU (17-6 overall) dug itself out fairly quickly from the worst of the hole it fell into during the first half, but needed about 8 1/2 minutes of the second half before it took its first lead since a 2-0 advantage in the game’s opening minute.

The Warriors (7-12, 4-8) built a double-digit lead by the midpoint of the first half and extended it to 27-10 with 8:16 left on a 3-pointer by Carmelo Harris.

Northern immediately reeled off a 10-0 run, culminated by Max Bjorklund’s 3-pointer, over the next 2 1/2 minutes to cut its deficit to 27-20.

The Wildcats got within 36-32 at halftime following a layup by Max Weisbrod three seconds before the break.

Then NMU scored the first four points of the second half on jumpers by Dylan Kuehl and Bjorklund to tie it 36-36 with 16:40 to go.

But the Warriors quickly regained the lead until Northern was able to tie it again, 43-43, with 11:27 left on the first of two free throws made by Sam Privet.

Privet’s second free throw gave his team a narrow lead that Wayne State wrested back right away.

On their third attempt to even the score, however, Northern made good — for good.

Carson Smith’s triple with 5:53 remaining put the Wildcats ahead 51-49 and they wouldn’t relinquish it.

NMU got its biggest lead of seven points, 63-56, with nine seconds left following a pair of Weisbrod free throws before WSU’s Avery Lewis made a layup with two ticks remaining.

Bjorklund, the GLIAC’s leading scorer, was under his average but still led the Wildcats with 16 points, 12 occurring in the comeback second half. Weisbrod added 12 points, hitting 3 of 3 on free throws while dishing out a game-high five assists to go with six rebounds.

Kuehl finished with 10 points and team highs of seven rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.

Smith had a team-high eight rebounds and hit a pair of triples while scoring eight points.

The Warriors’ Lewis led all scorers with 24 points as he also pulled down six rebounds and had three assists.

NMU has an important road trip this week, facing last-place Davenport (2-10, 6-16) in Grand Rapids at 7:30 p.m. Thursday before heading to Allendale to take on Grand Valley at 3 p.m. Saturday.

While GVSU is only in fifth place, the Lakers also trail Northern by just one game in the GLIAC loss column.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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