Coming up shy
MARQUETTE -The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team pulled off an upset of Ferris State at home last season and in so doing, gave head coach Bill Sall a win over his former team.
This year’s NMU squad gave Ferris State all it could handle, but the Wildcats lost to the 19th-ranked Bulldogs 61-58 at the Berry Events Center.
NMU’s Jordan Perez led all scorers with 21 points and was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
NMU’s Marcus Hall knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 58-57 lead with 1:35 left in the game.
But FSU’s Josh Fleming dropped in a layup 20 seconds later and the Bulldogs sank two free throws to clinch the win.
Hall was able to get off two desperation 3-point shots before the buzzer, but both rattled off the rim.
Sall was pleased with his team’s effort after pushing the GLIAC-leading Bulldogs to the limit.
“I thought we played very well,” he said. “We played hard and did some good things. That’s a very good team and we just didn’t have enough to pull it off.
“We missed a couple of opportunities late and over the course of the game, we gave up too many offensive rebounds (NMU was out-rebounded 22-8 on the offensive glass). That makes it tough to win.”
The first half started off back-and-forth and a Hall 3-pointer gave NMU a 10-7 lead.
Perez got a layup with 13:52 remaining and NMU (6-10, 4-6 GLIAC) led by three points yet again. However, that was the last time the Wildcats held a lead in the first half.
A trey by FSU’s Noah King then put the Bulldogs (14-2, 10-0 GLIAC) up by nine points – their largest lead of the game.
NMU pulled to within three points of the Bulldogs after a layup by Perez and a free throw by Terry Nash, but FSU led 34-31 at the break.
The second half started off similar to the first in that both teams went on small runs.
A triple by Perez with 13:35 left gave NMU its first lead of the final 20 minutes.
FSU appeared to take control of the game again after Fleming made back-to-back baskets, but the Wildcats continued to remain within striking distance.
NMU’s Alex Sorenson got a putback to tie the game at 55-55 and NMU had a handful of opportunities to take the lead down the stretch.
However, the Wildcats missed two free throws and Perez got trapped around the half court line, which forced NMU to take a timeout with 17 seconds left.
The Wildcats were unable to get a good opportunity to nail the game-tying trey in the closing moments and dropped their second straight game.
“They jumped him (Perez), ” Sall said. “They came out and trapped him. There was really nowhere for him to go.
“We’ve got to look at those scenarios and make sure we do a better job of getting a good shot. When you’re down three, it makes it very difficult.”
NMU will head out on the road next week as the Wildcats take on Saginaw Valley State Thursday and Hillsdale on Saturday.
“We’re playing against great teams,” Sall said. “The (GLIAC) North (Division) is stacked this year. There’s nothing that’s easy.
“Hopefully, we can continue to preach the effort that we’ve seen here. That’s the thing about this week.
“We played hard enough to win both games and we just didn’t quite get it done.”
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.