The Wildcats basketball season came to a close over spring break with a 73-71 win over Northwood (7-12 GLIAC, 10-18 overall) on Thursday, Feb. 24. Junior forward DeAndre Taylor hit a game winning jumper with one second left to earn the NMU the win. Sophomore forward Mylan Murphy led the ’Cats with 17 points, while junior guard Martin Gross chipped in 14. Junior center Jared Benson scored 12 and pulled down 15 boards. Freshmen forward Matthew Craggs and Taylor each added 10 points.
On Saturday, Feb. 26 the ’Cats finished their season with a 76-61 loss to Saginaw Valley State (9-10 GLIAC, 13-14 overall). Craggs led the team with 18 points. The ’Cats finished the season 4-15 in the GLIAC and 9-17 overall. Benson says he’s ready to put the season behind him and start working towards next season.
“I feel like as a player we let our fans down and I intend on devoting this summer to making next year’s team as good as possible and returning Northern to its winning ways,” Benson said. “Last season is over and all we can do is grow as a team and move on.”
Although the ’Cats suffered through a seven game losing streak, they were able to put together a more consistent effort towards the end of the season. They won their last home game of the season against Ashland, and got the win at Northwood completing the season sweep of the Timberwolves. Benson said winning the last home game and picking up a road win helps build momentum for next season.
“We wanted to go out on a good note in front of our home fans.” Benson said. “A road win at the end of the year is always a confidence builder going into the following season.”
Benson led the team in scoring with an average of 14.1 points per game (ppg) while shooting a team high 58.7 percent from the field. He also led the ’Cats in rebounding and blocks averaging 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. DeAndre Taylor was second on the team in scoring with 13.6 ppg and led the team in steals with 44 on the season. Matthew Craggs was third on the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg.
Benson’s impressive season on the hardwood didn’t go unnoticed as he earned a spot on GLIAC North Division second team. Benson was 15th in the league in scoring and ninth in rebounds. His 58.7 field goal percentage was good for fourth in the GLIAC, while his 41 blocks was third best.
“I’m honored to have made second team in the GLIAC; it validates the hard work put in during the season and during the offseason,” he said.
The ’Cats didn’t have any seniors on this years squad, but are looking to looking to fill new roster spots with the arrival of new freshmen, and transfers. With new recruits joining the team, and the core of players returning the Wildcats look to improve going into the 2011-2012 season.
“Our team is looking to regroup and grow together considering all the new players that we’ll have next year,” Benson said. “We hope to take what we’ve learned about our offense and defense and improve the little details that help things run smoothly.”