Men’s basketball takes two of three

Jon Young

The NMU men’s basketball team played three games this past week and improved its record to 3-2. On Saturday, Nov. 20, the ’Cats hosted Spring Arbor for their first home game of the season. It took a buzzer beating lay-up by Matt Everson to seal the 84-82 win and give head coach Doug Lewis his first home victory at Northern.

“As a coach, you never want it to come down to the last second; it was exciting for the fans,” Lewis said. “It showed some character for our team that we could pull out a victory and a close victory at that.”

The Wildcats were paced by junior center Jared Benson’s double-double; he finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds. DeAndre Taylor, Raymont McElroy, Mylan Murphy and Matt Everson also scored in double figures to lead the balanced ’Cats offensive attack. For Lewis and the team, it was important to come out and win the first home game.

Junior center Jared Benson looks to shoot over a defender. Benson leads the team with 87 points and 17.4 points per game. // Justin Key/NW

“One of the major things we wanted to do is protect home court,” Lewis said. “The first thing I wanted to do when I got here is let our players know, let our fans know, that we want to win all the home games.”

This past weekend the Wildcats traveled to Erie, Penn. to take part in the 27th annual Gary Miller Classic basketball tournament. On Friday, Nov. 26, they opened against Daemen College and came away with an 82-80 victory. The Wildcats were led by sophomore center Mylan Murphy who pulled down 16 rebounds and added 13 points. Junior point guard Raymont McElroy had 14 points and seven assists for the ’Cats, and junior guard DeAndre Taylor chipped in 13 points. Jared Benson led the scoring attack with 19 points. The ’Cats held a 46-24 halftime lead but had to fight off a second half Daemen comeback.

“We knew we had to play fast paced with them and we did, and I thought we did a pretty good job of executing,” Benson said.  “In the second half our defense kind of went a little haywire and we let them comeback, but we were resilient enough to hold on and win it in the end.”

On Saturday, Nov. 27, the Wildcats took on the Gannon University Golden Knights, the tournament host in the championship game. The ’Cats lost 79-68, but Lewis was happy with the team’s effort in the game.

“It was a battle all the way down to the end, our guys didn’t bend one minute,” Lewis said. “They just made fewer mistakes than we did.”

The Wildcats shot 52 percent for the game, compared to 44.6 percent for the Golden Knights. Gannon shot 11 more free throws than NMU and their defense made it hard for the ’Cats to drive the lane.

“They had really solid defense,” Benson said. “They didn’t let you drive to the hoop easy.”

Benson led the ’Cats with 22 points while Raymont McElroy added 17 and Taylor chipped in 12. Lewis said Gannon was the best team the Wildcats have played so far, and they’re similar to the teams Northern will face in the GLIAC.

The Wildcats kick off a five-game home stand this week starting on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 11 p.m. when they host Michigan Tech at the Berry Events Center.