Men open conference with 2-1 record

Ray Bressette

The NMU men’s basketball team will host a pair of games against Southwest Minn. St. at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 and the Lewis University Flyers at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24.The Wildcats played three games this past week and improved their record to 2-1.

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The ’Cats won their first game this past weekend over Mt. Nazarene in the Mike Turner Classic in Albion Friday, Nov. 15 by a score of 75-62 for their first win this season.

The game featured five different lead changes in the first half before NMU took a 28-24 lead into halftime.

The ’Cats outscored Mt. Nazarene 47-38 in the second half to leave with the victory.

Freshman guard Marcus Hall led NMU in scoring with 29 points. Junior forward Justin Newell scored 18 points for the ’Cats. Freshman guard and forward Dorrell Foster scored ten points and led the team in rebounds with eight.

The Wildcats lost in the Mike Turner Classic championship game to Albion 83-76 Saturday, Nov. 16. The ’Cats fell behind early in the game and trailed for the first six minutes.

Despite cutting the deficit to two points at 38-36 heading into the half, NMU was outscored 45-40 in the second half to drop the championship game and their record to 1-2.

Newell said the team learned in the championship game they need to focus better defensively.

“We really need to work on defense, it’s our area we can really improve on the most,” Newell said. “We let them out-hustle us and outwork us. We just can’t let the other team do that.”

NMU shot 48.3 percent from the floor, making 28 of 58 shots on the day.

Hall led the team in points with 24.

NMU head coach Bill Sall said he’s pleased with Hall’s performance in his first games as a Wildcat.

“Hall’s off to a great start, especially for a freshman,” Sall said. “He’s shooting the ball confidently, and we’re going to need him to continue doing that and progress his game as the season moves along.”

On Monday, Nov. 18 the Wildcats defeated Grace Bible College 90-72 in the ’Cats’ home opener at Berry Events Center.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead less than a minute into the first half, and maintained the lead the rest of the game.

Newell led the team in points with 24, followed by Hall with 21 and sophomore guard Terry Nash with 16.

Sall said the team’s biggest focus needs to be consistency.

“We learned a lot about our team,” Sall said. “As we move forward, we need to try and find out what it means to play hard and consistent both defensively and offensively for an entire game.”

The Wildcats will host two games at Berry Events Center this week, the first at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 against the Southwest Minn. St. Broncos.

The Broncos come into the game off a 83-62 loss on Monday, Nov. 18 at home against South Dakota St. with a record of 1-2. Sall said despite their record, the Broncos will be a tough task for his team.

“The Broncos are a very experienced, well coached team,” Sall said. “They’ve played a tough schedule so far, and they’re still expected to finish at the top of their respective conference.”

NMU will take on the Lewis University Flyers at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 at Berry Events Center.

Lewis defeated Olivet Nazarene on Monday, Nov. 11 by a score of 79-64 and will take on the Ferris State Bulldogs at home Wednesday, Nov. 20 before traveling to NMU this weekend.

Junior guard Ryan Jackson averages 24 points per game for Southwest Minn. St.

Newell said the team feels confident in taking on their two opponents.

“We’re feeling pretty good and prepared going into this weekend,” Newell said. “We can fix our mistakes from the last few games, we have a pretty good game plan and we’re going to show up ready to play.”