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Guard scoring not enough for NMU men

DULUTH, Minnesota – A trio of guards scored in double figures but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team from losing in the opening game of the regular season on the road on Tuesday night.

Minnesota-Duluth defeated the Wildcats 79-67 at Romano Gymnasium despite Northern’s freshman Naba Echols scoring 16 points, senior Terry Nash 13 points and sophomore Jordan Perez 12 points.

Perez, who also led Northern rebounders with seven, highlighted NMU’s opening 7-0 run in the first 1:46 with a 3-pointer.

Nash made a layup with 15:56 left in the first half to get the Wildcats their biggest lead of the night of eight points at 11-3. But Duluth cut it to 16-15 with 12:45 to go on a Pierre Newton tip-in before Northern quickly re-established a 25-19 lead at the midpoint of the opening half on a Nash 3-pointer.

Then the Bulldogs reeled off a 13-0 run to take the lead for good, 32-25 on a Newton layup with 5:32 left before halftime. The home team increased the margin to 46-33 by the break.

Newton led all scorers with 23 points, making 11 of 12 free throws as UMD was 21 of 23 at the line (91.3 percent). NMU was just 8 of 13 at the stripe (61.5 percent).

Duluth held Northern at arm’s length through much of the second half, though a 13-3 run by the Wildcats in a five-minute stretch that ended with a free throw by junior forward-center Alex Mustert with 3:33 left pulled the Wildcats within 69-64.

But Northern scored just three more points as Duluth held on for the victory.

NMU scored 34 points in the paint and 16 points off of turnovers, though was outrebounded 41-36 and had three more turnovers, 13-10.

The Wildcats return to action when they travel to Kentucky to participate in the Kentucky Wesleyan Classic. Northern Michigan will square off against host Kentucky Wesleyan at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27, before taking on Southern Wesleyan at 3 p.m. the following day.

NMU’s regular-season opener will be against GLIAC foe Walsh University at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Berry Events Center.

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

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