Bulldogs and Lakers thwart Wildcats

Katie Bultman

Injuries left the men’s basketball team with a shortage of guards in games against top-ranked conference teams Grand Valley State and Ferris State.

Junior forward Scooter Johnson (5) contributed 12 points on Thursday, Feb. 7 against Grand Valley. Johnson tallied a free throw against Ferris.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Wildcat record sunk to 4-13 in conference play in a 63-69 loss to Ferris State University.

The ’Cats have faced injuries for a majority of the season. Most recently, the guard position has suffered, as sophomore Quinten Calloway was out on injury for Saturday’s game versus Ferris State University.

Freshman guard Stephen Pelkofer, who tallied 11 points for the ’Cats, said the game is more difficult when a team has some of its guards sitting.

“It’s tough when you don’t have anyone consistently bringing up the ball,” Pelkofer said. “[On Saturday], we got off to a slow start, and then we hung with them, but we couldn’t close out. It was a tough one.”

Head coach Doug Lewis said the team needed to deny the ball handlers, but the ’Cats had a hard time defensively for the first half of the game.

“We couldn’t handle their guards,” Lewis said. “They have three of the better guards in the conference. If you look at the stats, 47 of their 69 points came from the three guards, and without containing them we pretty much didn’t have a shot.”

In the second half, sophomore forward Kendall Jackson sunk six out of six free throws to improve the Wildcat’s point margin from the line. Jackson also added 17 points for the ’Cats over the course of the game, and grabbed four rebounds for the books.

Junior forward Matt Craggs led the ’Cats within a four point margin of the Bulldogs.

Late in the second half, Craggs dropped two layups and hit a three-point shot.

With 31 seconds left he sunk a free throw. The Wildcats were down 61-65 at that point, but were not able to surpass the Bulldogs for a win.

Craggs, who finished with eight rebounds and 14 points, said the team had a rough start but still finished the game on a strong note.

“[Saturday] was a tough one,” Craggs said. “We got off to a slow start but we were able to get some key stops at the end. We had effort, we were competing, and we never gave up.”

The team took down ten defensive rebounds in the second half to strip Ferris State of second chance opportunities. NMU totaled 13 rebounds in the second half to trump Ferris by one.

In addition, the ’Cats outscored the Bulldogs by one in the second half, tallying the second period score to 39-38 in favor of NMU.

Lewis said the team did a good overall job on the floor and was able to hit the shots.

“When we did handle the pressure and got the ball inside we were able to score,” Lewis said. “We shot 66 percent from the floor.”

On Thursday, Feb. 7 the Wildcats lost 56-64 to Grand Valley.The Lakers are currently tied for second in conference play with Michigan Tech.

The game began as an even match between the two teams, as they left for halftime with NMU down by one with a score of 29-30. In the second period, the ’Cats trailed for the remainder of the game.

Senior forward TJ Cameron finished with the team-high 16 points, followed by junior forward Scooter Johnson with 12 points.

Craggs, who chipped in six points and two rebounds, said the game was a difficult one but the team never quit.

“It was a tough game,” Craggs said. “We continued to fight and compete and that’s all we can do.”

The men’s basketball team is on the road this weekend after a three-game streak at home. They play Saginaw Valley State at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14 at the University Center, and then face Wayne State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Detroit.