NMU men cruise at home, stumble on road

Jon Young

Junior center Scooter Johnson goes up for two against Finlandia.

After blasting Finlandia, 129-52, on Saturday, Nov. 27 to start the 2012-13 season the NMU men’s basketball team traveled to Milwaukee to participate in the Fresh Coast Classic.

The ’Cats first opponent was No. 23-ranked Winston-Salem State on Friday, Nov. 23. The ’Cats dropped the back-and-forth game, 78-69. Junior forward Matt Craggs, who paced the offense with 15 points in the game said the team had a chance late.

“We were right there the whole game, until the end we made a few mistakes and that’s what cost us the game,” Craggs said.

After falling behind by seven in the first half, NMU battled back to tie up the score 36-36 going into halftime. The teams traded leads in the second half before Winston pulled away. Head coach Doug Lewis said the consistency will come with experience.

“It was kind of inconsistency,” Lewis said. “We battled back when we got down in the first half. We battled back and tied the game up with two minutes left. We had crucial turnovers by some of our young guys and you know they’re only going to get better with experience.”

Freshman shooting guard Stephen Pelkofer also netted 15 points, including 3-4 from deep. Redshirt freshman point guard Terry Nash added 12 points.

Lewis said he was happy with the way the team responded in the second half and the fight they showed, but his squad is going to need to convert in crunch time.

“I was just proud of our guys, to fight back and we battled neck- and-neck with the other team but it’s always about making plays and making the least amount of mistakes and we made the mistakes down the stretch,” Lewis said.

NMU’s second game of the tournament had a similar outcome as the first, as it fell to Lincoln, 67-56, on Saturday, Nov. 24.

By the end of the first half the Wildcats had fallen 28-19 before battling back in the second half to tie the game at 54 apiece.

“It was the same situation; we didn’t play well in the first half,” Lewis said. “We got down eight; we shot 29 percent from the floor. Second half we played much better; I think in the future we’ve got to get off to better starts, if we can get off to better starts that will help.”

The loss was costly in more than just the win-loss column as the ’Cats lost Nash to a foot injury. Nash is expected to miss three to five weeks.

Sophomore guard Quinten Calloway, who started at point guard last year will replace Nash in the starting line-up.

The loss of Nash hurts the team but Craggs said he is confident the team has the depth to keep moving forward.

“We have at least two at every position,” Craggs said. “So if someone is in foul trouble or if someone gets injured we always have someone to back them up which is good.”

NMU starts their conference schedule this weekend at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 against Walsh University. Then they take on Malone University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Both games are in Canton, Ohio.