Echols, Johnson lead NMU men to victory

Wildcat Naba Echols, left, jumps to pass to a teammate down the court during their game against Northwood University Saturday, Feb. 9. 2019. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team picked up a home GLIAC victory Saturday afternoon, topping Northwood 72-60.

Seniors Naba Echols and Isaiah Johnson combined to score 43 points — Echols getting 25, Johnson 18 — helping improve NMU’s record to 14-8 overall and 9-6 in the GLIAC North Division.

In a closely contested first half, the Timberwolves (11-12, 8-7 GLIAC South) held a small lead for most of the first 12 minutes before the Wildcats pulled ahead for good.

NMU built the lead to 38-28 at halftime with a late flurry that included a Johnson steal and slam dunk with 44 seconds left in the first half, then a 3-pointer by Echols at the buzzer.

The Wildcats couldn’t shake their opponents, however, for most of the second half. Northwood got within 60-58 on a free throw by Ja’Kavien Lewis with 3:48 to go.

Northern immediately answered with a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.

While Echols shot better from the field — 50 percent on 11 of 22 with three 3-pointers — Johnson was just 5 of 16 from the field but also 7 of 7 at the free-throw line while grabbing 10 rebounds.

Sam Taylor added 12 points and six rebounds for NMU, while Myles Howard went scoreless but recorded game highs of 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

David Jelinek led Northwood with 18 points while Trey McBride and Bruno Solomun had 11 each. Jelinek and McBride also pulled down 10 rebounds apiece.

The Wildcats forced 14 turnovers while committing just seven, while the Timberwolves held a narrow 40-38 rebounding advantage.

NMU begins a five-game road trip to end the regular season with games at Ferris State on Thursday evening and Lake Superior State on Saturday afternoon.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Spitza. Email him at