Taking some tough losses: Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team barely loses to nationally ranked Minnesota opponents
By Journal Sports Staff
MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team took it on the chin twice over the weekend with a pair of tough losses at home against nationally ranked competition from Minnesota.
No. 9 Minnesota State-Moorhead defeated the Wildcats 83-79 in overtime a day before No. 16 Minnesota-Duluth delivered a 74-72 blow to NMU.
Northern fell to 4-5, all out of conference, with five more home games coming currently at the PEIF gym before the Wildcats hit the road again in early January. This week will be another nonleague contest against NAIA member Viterbo of La Crosse, Wisconsin, at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The following Thursday, Dec. 7, will be NMU’s GLIAC opener against Wayne State with another conference game two days later vs. Saginaw Valley State.
Here is a wrapup of this past weekend:
Minnesota St.-Moorhead 83, NMU 79 (OT)
On Saturday afternoon, Northern just missed tagging the Dragons with their first loss of the season as the Wildcats made barely half their free throws — 12 of 23 for 52%.
This all came despite a career scoring game from NMU’s Max Weisbrod, who finished with 32 points, including four 3-pointers. He also pulled down five rebounds and had two assists.
Sam Schultz and Dylan Kuehl shared Northern rebounding honors with 11 apiece as Schultz kept his per-game rebounding average above 10.0.
Kuehl scored 12 points, Carson Smith 11 and Schultz nine as Schultz also had three assists and Kuehl two blocked shots.
All that was set off by Moorhead’s Jacob Beeninga, who scored his season high and a game-high 35 points as he made seven 3s and 6 of 7 free throws. Contrasting NMU’s free throw shooting woes, the Dragons made 16 of 21 (76%) at the line.
The Dragons (5-0) spent most of the game ahead
NMU’s last lead in the first half was 11-10 with 15:26 to go on a Smith jumper, while the last time Northern pulled even was 13-13 on a Sam Privet jumper with 14:02 to go.
After that, Moorhead went on a 14-4 run to take a 27-17 edge at just about the midpoint of the first half.
Northern got it back down to 39-33 by halftime, but the Dragons reopened their advantage to begin the second half.
After falling behind by 16, NMU went on an 11-0 run in just three minutes as Weisbrod hit a 3 and converted a traditional three-point play during the stretch.
That got Northern back within 54-49 with 11:06 left, though they wouldn’t take their first lead since the opening few minutes until Weisbrod made a layup with 2:07 to go in regulation that made it 66-65 Wildcats.
The teams traded the lead several times after that, though NMU took a 72-69 advantage with 31 seconds remaining on a Weisbrod jumper.
After Beeninga made 1 of 2 free throws with 19 seconds left, teammate Ja’Kair Sanchez hit two free throws with eight seconds remaining to knot the score 72-72.
Weisbrod tried a triple at the regulation buzzer that came up empty and forced overtime.
Though the Wildcats never had the lead in OT, they stayed within a single possession for most of it. Weisbrod hit back-to-back jumpers 46 seconds apart to tie it 76-76 with 1:43 to go, then sank a 3 with 20 seconds left to pulled NMU within 80-79.
But he was the only Wildcat to score in the extra period.
Minnesota-Duluth 74, NMU 72
On Sunday afternoon, the Wildcats took a pair of shots just before the buzzer that could’ve won the game or at least forced OT for the second straight day.
Duluth improved to 5-1 despite Weisbrod putting up a 3-point attempt and teammate Brian Parzych getting the rebound and putting back a layup try in the final couple of seconds.
Kuehl led Northern in four categories, scoring 22 points, pulling in 10 rebounds, making two steals and blocking two shots all while committing just one turnover in 35 minutes playing time.
Weisbrod added 18 points and three rebounds as he and Schultz each had four assists. Schultz scored eight points while pulling in a season-low six rebounds, still second highest on the team this day.
Drew Blair paced Duluth with 24 points and six rebounds as he hit four 3s and all four of his free throws.
Unlike the day before, the Wildcats led for much of the first half and got their lead up to seven points, 29-22 on a Kuehl triple with 4:35 to go, before settling for a 38-34 bulge at halftime.
They kept the lead to start the second half, with the Bulldogs tying it and taking the lead in the midst of an 11-2 run that produced UMD’s 51-47 advantage with 13:42 remaining.
For almost another 10 minutes, Duluth remained ahead until an NMU 9-0 surge gave the home team a 70-68 lead with 2:48 to go following a Schultz layup.
It would prove to be Northern’s last lead, though the Wildcats did tie it 72-72 with 1:23 to go on a Schultz jumper.
Fifteen seconds later, Duluth’s Charlie Katona scored what proved to be the game-winning layup and the game’s final points as the NMU last-second shot attempts missed.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.