Men’s team takes losses, looks ahead

Katie Bultman

The NMU men’s basketball team faced a tough stretch early in December after coming off of a six game losing streak, but found a way to regain some momentum in several home games over winter vacation.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, the Wildcats faced undefeated Hillsdale in a GLIAC home opener.

The ’Cats faced a rough stretch in the second half when they scored a total of nine points in comparison to the 28 put up by the Chargers. The game ended in a loss for the Wildcats, 44-70.

The Wildcats hosted a second home game on Saturday, Dec. 8 against the University of Findlay. Sophomore guard Quinten Calloway put up 21 points for the ’Cats, but it was not enough to seal a win. NMU struggled to take care of the ball, and as a result gave up 25 points from turnovers.

Sophomore forward Kendall Jackson said that ball control became a main focus in practice.

“We need more control over the ball during practice so that it carries over to games,” Jackson said. “We’ve been working on everything defense, and Coach stresses taking care of the ball.”

After six consecutive losses, the ’Cats brought some fire to Ohio Dominican on Sunday Dec. 16. With 13 lead changes throughout the game, the Wildcats battled to a 77-73 win for their first GLIAC victory of the season, with only 10 turnovers.

Junior forward Michael Smith said the team put forward some work in practice to minimize turnovers.

“We try and work the ball around any given night,” Smith said. “Ball control gives us more opportunities to score.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the ’Cats were on the road to face Tiffin University in another GLIAC conference game.

Jackson tied the game after sinking two free-throws at 3:23 on the clock, but the momentum was not enough to carry the team to victory.

The end result was a Tiffin win of 62-55 over the ’Cats. Junior forward Scooter Johnson ended the game with a double-double, racking up 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The men continued their season on the road on Sunday, Dec. 30 when they faced Lewis University. In another game of turnovers, NMU gave up 22 points for a 45-64 loss.

Head coach Doug Lewis described how the guys needed to learn what they were expected to add to the team when on the court.

“The biggest hurdle this year has been chemistry,” Lewis said. “The group needs to work on learning their roles.”

With a couple of home games, the ’Cats broke the losing streak to start off the 2013 season. On Thursday, Jan. 3, the Wildcats earned their second GLIAC  win against Ashland University.

Four of the Wildcats scored more than 10 points in the game, showing improvement in the team chemistry.

Jackson and Calloway put in 15 points for the team, while freshman guard Stephen Pelkofer dropped 14 and junior forward Matt Craggs added 13. NMU finished with a 73-66 victory.

The ’Cats continued with a 66-62 win at home on Saturday Jan. 5 over Lake Erie College. For the second game in a row, four players scored in the double-digit range.

Calloway chipped in 16 points off of eight free-throws, while Craggs added 14, Cameron put in 12, and Johnson had 10. The game brought the team to 3-5 in the conference.

Coach Lewis said the home wins were important for both the team and the NMU students.

“Any time you can win home games is important for the fans and the team confidence,” Lewis said. “It’s that chemistry again and learning to win at this level. We have a pretty young team and It’s different, in high school you don’t always have to show up, but here you have to play hard for the win.”

NMU took on Grand Valley State University on Thursday, Jan. 10 and Ferris State on Saturday, Jan. 12. Each resulted in a loss for the team, bringing their current record to 4-10 overall and 3-7 in the GLIAC.

The Wildcats take the court next at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Berry Events Center, where they will face Saginaw Valley State. The women’s game will follow at 7:30 p.m.