Wildcats bow out to Davenport in GLIAC men’s semis

By Journal Sports Staff

CALEDONIA — Host and No. 1 seed Davenport used a big run early in the second half to pull away from the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team and win their GLIAC Tournament semifinal game on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers posted an 88-77 victory after the teams were tied 40-40 at halftime.

The loss effectively ends the season for the tournament’s No. 5-seeded Wildcats at 17-12 after their fifth-place finish in the league during the regular season.

Davenport advances to the GLIAC tourney championship game back on its suburban Grand Rapids campus at 3 p.m. today to face No. 7 seed Grand Valley State, which defeated No. 3 Wisconsin-Parkside 55-53 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

NMU senior guard Naba Echols ended his collegiate career with a flourish Saturday, leading all scorers with 28 points that included making 6 of 8 on 3-point attempts. He added a team-high four assists and tied for the team lead with two steals.

Fellow senior Isaiah Johnson added 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds and also had three assists.

Northern’s Marcus Matelski scored nine points, all on a trio of triples, while teammate Myles Howard pulled down nine rebounds and had his team’s only blocked shot while scoring four points.

Dyllon Hudson-Emory led four Davenport (27-3) players scoring in double figures with 19 points as he added seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

The Panthers’ Chris Rollins and Avery Hudson each scored 15 points, Hudson also tallying a team-high eight rebounds and game-high six assists. And Robbie Bramhill added in 10 points.

Both teams shot well, though Davenport held the advantage on all shots, making 54 percent overall from the field (31 of 57), 50 percent on 3-pointers (12 of 24) and 67 percent on free throws (14 of 21).

Northern’s percentages were 41 percent from the field (26 of 64), 40 percent on triples (12 of 30) and 62 percent on free throws (13 of 21).

The Wildcats held the lead throughout the game’s first nine minutes, hitting high-water marks of 10-2 after a Johnson jumper a little more than two minutes in and 19-14 with 12:02 left when Echols sank a 3.

Davenport took its first lead at 23-22 on a Khadim Dieng layup with 9:14 left in the first half.

NMU had to finish the first half with an 8-0 run in the last 1:45 to tie the game at halftime. Echols hit a pair of 3-pointers in that spurt.

The momentum apparently carried over to the start of the second half as the Wildcats took several leads early on a the strength of a couple Johnson baskets and free throw.

Then Hudson started a 14-2 run that gave the Panthers the lead for good, turning Northern’s 45-43 lead with 19:13 left into a 57-47 deficit with 14:33 to go.

NMU got back with seven points three times in the next six minutes until another run bumped Davenport’s lead into double digits until the game’s final 30 seconds.

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