Men’s hoops break win streak, drop two


The NMU men’s basketball team dropped both of their home contests this past weekend, falling to 7-7 on the year with a 4-6 GLIAC record.

Thursday’s loss came against the Findlay Oilers (12-3, 8-2), who sit atop the GLIAC conference rankings this season, by a score of 71-66. Saturday’s loss came by the stroke of the Hillsdale Chargers (3-11, 3-7), who lit up the scoreboard, knocking down 14 three-pointers and giving the game a 78-62 end.

“Offensively, we’re playing with a lack of confidence,” head coach Dean Ellis said. “We’ve got very good players who are struggling to score in stretches, and we’re a lot better than that.”

In all, 25 3-pointers were given up over the weekend by the Wildcats, presenting a lack of execution in the perimeter zone defense.
Despite the loss to Findlay, the Wildcats were able to outshoot the Oilers, shooting 46 percent from the floor to Findlay’s 44 percent. Unfortunately, giving up 11 3-pointers to NMU’s six, hurt the Wildcats in the end.

“We’ve been giving up a lot of three-pointers and unfortunately the other team has been making a high percentage of three-pointers, so that’s been hurting us,” sophomore center Jared Benson said.

Benson brought in 11 points on the night to go along with eight rebounds. NMU’s leading scorer was once again sophomore guard Raymont McElroy with 15 points. Freshman forward Mylan Murphy contributed 13 points as well as seven rebounds and three blocks.

Hillsdale came in with only two wins on the season but walked away victorious thanks in part due to the three-point shots given up by NMU. The Chargers shot 50 percent from the field and 56 percent from beyond the arch. A once 20-point lead by Hillsdale in the second half would prove to be too much to come back from for NMU.

“The shooting from the other end was phenomenal,” Ellis said. “Findlay shot the ball well, but Hillsdale was borderline unconscious on some of the shots they made.”
The time for the Wildcats to hit a three-game skid on the year couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the team now finds themselves traveling away for four straight games. The first comes against Lake Superior State (9-6, 7-3) on Thursday, Dec. 21, then down to Saginaw Valley State (10-5, 7-3) on Saturday, Dec. 23.

The road stretch doesn’t bother Ellis however, who has seen his team perform better away from Marquette at times this year.

“For us we’ve seemed to play better on the road this year,” Ellis said. “Every game is a game you can win and every game the other team can win. We’ll go out and battle.”
The Lakers, coming off of a loss to Wayne State, rank first in the conference in 3-point field goals made a game, averaging 8.1, with 121 on season.

“They’re good shooters and they put up a lot of shots from the outside,” Benson said. “That should be difficult for our zone, but we can swing around the zone and get a hand in their face. Then they’re not shooting that well.”

The post play, led by Benson and Murphy so far this season, should have reasons to flourish against the Lakers smaller team. But the post is 18 feet from where the Wildcats have their concerns against Lake State.

“Everyone needs to figure out what their role is in the zone,” Benson said. “We’re getting it figured out and hopefully we can do it pretty quickly here because we can’t lose too many more.”

Saginaw Valley State is currently holding a four-game win streak, all over conference opponents. Both games should be a test to the Wildcats, with big conference implications on the line. Ellis feels that the confidence and execution of the team needs to pick up, and then things should be all right.

“On offense it’s us making decisions to compete and finish shots and be mentally tougher on both ends of the court, it’s the same thing,” he said. “We need to be stronger running our sets and ‘trusting our plan.”

Game time versus Lake State is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Sault St. Marie.
The Saginaw game will tip off at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in University Center, Mich.