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Dragons race past NMU men, 104-68

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University couldn’t slow the sharpshooters from Minnesota State-Moorhead and lost a 104-68 decision in a college men’s basketball game played at the Berry Events Center on Friday night.

The Dragons, two years removed from an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament, shot 53 percent from the field, including 52 percent from 3-point range, and made 90 percent of their free throws while outrebounding NMU 50-28.

Many of Moorhead’s players from the national finals run are reportedly still with the team, too.

Meanwhile, NMU shot a more pedestrian 41 percent from the field including 36 percent from 3-point land while making 55 percent at the line.

The Wildcats (1-2) had just one lead, 4-2, after sophomore guard Naba Echols sank a jump shot 44 seconds into the game.

They also had the score tied at 13-13 on a Rod Johnson triple with 15:23 left in the first half and still only trailed 23-21 when Echols made a layup with 11:37 to go.

After that, the Dragons went on a 17-2 tear over the next 6 1/2 minutes to build a 40-23 cushion and erase any doubt about the game’s outcome.

Moorhead (2-1) led 61-35 at halftime as NMU got as close as 16 points, 77-59, about 8 1/2 minutes into the second half.

NMU guard Isaiah Johnson led all scorers with 25 points, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers and 4 of 4 at the free-throw line, while adding team highs of eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.

Echols added 13 points and three assists, while Marcus Matelski was next in scoring with eight points.

Forward Ayob Ayob led the Dragons with 24 points, while Aaron Lien added 23. Matt Anderson had 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats are back on the hardwood in the Berry at 3 p.m. today to face Southwest Minnesota State, the second of four straight games at home that spans through Dec. 1.

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

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