Shorthanded Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team falls 80-69 at Michigan Tech

Northern Michigan University’s Riley Brooks, center, is double-teamed by a pair of Michigan Tech defenders but still would get up this shot during their GLIAC men’s basketball game played at MTU in Houghton on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

HOUGHTON — Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Northern Michigan University sophomore guard Max Weisbord illustrated his value by not being in the lineup on Saturday afternoon.

Reportedly out with an injury, the two-time GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week was sorely missed as GLIAC-leading NMU was felled by their main Upper Peninsula rival, Michigan Tech, 80-69, in Houghton.

While the Huskies were only in eighth place in the 10-team league, they had plenty to play for as only eight teams make the end-of-the-season GLIAC Tournament in early March.

The Wildcats (19-7 overall) held onto the lead in the conference at 12-2, though they had a chance to clinch a share of the title if they had won and second-place Lake Superior State lost that day. Instead, the opposite happened as the Lakers took out fifth-place Saginaw Valley State 77-69 to pull within two games of Northern with four games remaining.

MTU improved a position in the standings to seventh, now at 6-8 in league games and 9-14 overall.

The Huskies’ offense was powered by Marcus Tomashek, easily the game’s highest scorer with 34 points as he made 12 of 21 shots from the field, including 7 of 10 on 3-pointers. He added in 3 of 4 free throws and a game-high nine rebounds.

Without Weisbrod, the GLIAC’s fifth-leading scorer and third-leading assist maker, Carson Smith picked up much of NMU’s scoring slack with 20 points, making an efficient 8 of 11 from the field, including 2 of 3 on triples. He also had three rebounds.

Dylan Kuehl added 14 points, five rebounds and team highs of three assists and three steals, while Riley Brooks scored 13 points and Sam Privet 11 along with a team-high six rebounds.

While most of the team statistics were close between the teams, Tech did shoot better, making 56% from the field (29 of 52) to just 45% for NMU (26 of 58). That included better 3-point shooting, too, the Huskies sinking 55% (11 of 20) to just 39% for the visitors (7 of 18).

Despite the Wildcats having their modest two-game winning streak snapped, they controlled the first half, leading for almost all of it as Tech’s biggest lead before halftime was one point, the final time at 17-16 with 10:31 left on a Nate Abel short jumper.

Northern immediately went on a 9-0 run over barely more than three minutes to go up 25-17. Smith hit three baskets, one a triple, while Sam Schultz added a layup in that spurt.

NMU had a 37-32 halftime lead only because the Huskies made the final two baskets of the first half, layups by Adam Hobson and Tomashek in the final 1:08.

Schultz got the Wildcats out to a fast start in the second half, hitting a 3 just 37 seconds in to gain his team its biggest lead after intermission, 40-32.

Tech kept chipping away at the visitors’ advantage until they took a 48-47 lead with 13:19 left on a Tomashek layup. While there were three ties soon after that, NMU would never get the lead again.

Northern was still within one possession, 72-69, with 2:19 left before the Huskies scored the game’s final eight points, something the Wildcats had been good at doing during their recent streak of winning 15 of 16.

This time, however, Tech got a triple by Hobson before sinking 5 of 6 free throws in the final 59 seconds.

NMU goes out on an all-important final road trip of the regular season this week, traveling to University Center to face eighth-place Saginaw Valley State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday before heading to Detroit to take on last-place Wayne State at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Their final weekend before the tourney will be a pair of home games against fourth-place Grand Valley State on Feb. 29 and ninth-place Davenport on March 2.

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


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