Final tuneup: Northern Michigan University Wildcats men’s basketball team ready for GLIAC season after 86-61 win over NAIA member Viterbo
Viterbo is an NAIA-member school — usually akin to NCAA Division III — of La Crosse, Wisconsin. NMU was able to take advantage as an NCAA Division II school, building an early double-digit lead that reached 24 points before the first half was over.
That allowed Northern head coach Matt Majkrzak to freely substitute as a dozen players saw the court, including eight that rolled up at least 15 minutes court time.
It kept anyone from really piling up statistics as Northern’s Dylan Kuehl accumulated a game-high 20 points in an efficient manner, making 8 of 9 shots from the field and 3 of 4 free throws. He was the recipient of several alley-oop passes for four dunks as he didn’t turn the ball over once.
Teammate Riley Brooks added 18 points off the bench, hitting 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and making both of his free throws. Brian Parzych contributed 13 points and tallied nine assists, including several of the alley-oop slams.
And Sam Schultz scored eight points and pulled down eight rebounds despite playing just 18 minutes. Sam Privet had six points and seven rebounds as he made all three shots he tried. Finally, Max Weisbrod and Carson Smith each dished out four assists.
Ben Olson led the V-Hawks with 15 points as both teams now stand 5-5.
NMU made more than half its shots — 53% on 31 of 58 — and 15 of 19 free throws, a 79% clip, while holding a 37-21 rebounding edge.
Viterbo actually made three of the game’s first four baskets to take a 7-2 lead with about 3 1/2 minutes gone. But within another 3 1/2 minutes, the Wildcats took their first lead, 12-11, on a Jackson Dudek layup.
That came during an NMU 13-0 run that saw its lead reach 10 points, 21-11, with 10:36 left in the first half. The Wildcats steadily built their lead until it reached 24 at 45-21 when Smith hit a pair of free throws 17 seconds before halftime.
Settling for a 45-23 edge at the intermission, Northern again built on its advantage with a Kuehl alley-oop slam in the first 90 seconds of the second half as the lead reached a zenith at 49-23.
The lead wouldn’t reach that level again until the game’s final four minutes, though it never fell below 18 points throughout the second half.
This game was the fourth of an eight-game homestand for the Wildcats, who open the GLIAC campaign with home games against Wayne State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and against Saginaw Valley State at 1 p.m. next Saturday. Each is the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader with the women’s game starting two hours earlier.
There was some question of whether the Saturday games may start later, since the Berry Events Center isn’t being used, but no word has been announced by the university yet.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.