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Wildcat men rule with balanced scoring in victory

By Journal Sports Staff

WESTVILLE, Ind. — Northern Michigan University spread out the scoring while sizzling at the free throw line to run away for an 86-74 men’s basketball victory at Purdue Northwest on Saturday.

Four Wildcats scored at least 17 points, led by seniors Isaiah Johnson and Naba Echols with 20 apiece.

Redshirt freshman Troy Summers had career highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore Alec Fruin added a career-high 17 points, making three 3-pointers.

Junior Myles Howard contributed eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

While Fruin was the only Northern player to shoot 3s well, the entire squad made up for it at the free-throw line. The Wildcats (12-8, 7-6 GLIAC) made just 5 of 20 triples (25 percent) but were 23 of 27 on free throws (85 percent).

In addition, NMU made 14 steals, including four each by Johnson, Echols and junior Sam Taylor.

PNW (6-15, 2-11) got 18 points from Dean Tate off the bench. The Pride also made 16 of 39 on 3-pointers (41 percent), including five by Tate, but only shot 6 of 22 on 2-point field goals (27 percent).

Though the Wildcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead, NMU couldn’t shake the PNW for most of the first half. The Pride took its only lead at 6-5 on a triple and didn’t fall behind by more than five points — including tying the game at 14-14 — until Echols hit a jumper with 6:22 left to put Northern up 31-25.

That began a 10-3 run that gave NMU its first double-digit lead, ending at 48-38 at halftime.

The Wildcats stalled to start the second half, watching PNW pull within 56-52 with 14:59 left, and didn’t increase its lead until Echols hit a jumper to make it 63-52.

After that, the Pride never got closer than seven points.

NMU takes a break from this short road trip with its final two home games of the regular season this week, hosting Saginaw Valley State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Northwood at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Berry Events Center.

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