Wildcats earn first win in four weeks, end losing skid

Ray Bressette

The men’s basketball team will hit the road for the final time this season to take on No. 20-ranked Lake Superior State University and Northwood University, after snapping their losing streak.NMU rebounded to defeat the Wayne State Warriors, 74-66, Saturday, Feb. 15 at home for their fifth win of the season, which ties last year’s season high.

Senior forward Michael Smith (12) had four points in the 74-66 NMU victory over Wayne State. Junior forward Chavis Mattison (23) had 17 points off the bench and junior guard Ethan Blackwell finished with eight points. (Anthony Viola NW)
Senior forward Michael Smith (12) had four points in the 74-66 NMU victory over Wayne State. Junior forward Chavis Mattison (23) had 17 points off the bench and junior guard Ethan Blackwell finished with eight points. (Anthony Viola NW)

The Wildcats shot 49 percent from the floor, making 24 of 49 shots in the game. Three Wildcat athletes scored points in the double-digits, including freshman guard Marcus Hall (18), junior forward Chavis Mattison (17) and junior forward Justin Newell (12).

“It’s been a struggle all year,” sophomore guard Terry Nash said. “We haven’t had a win like this in a long time. I’m just glad my teammates and I came out with the effort to keep working hard throughout the game to get the win. It felt really good.”The win was the ’Cats’ first since defeating Ferris State, 61-59, on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Berry Events Center.

The Wildcats will travel to Sault Ste. Marie to take on the GLIAC-leading LSSU Lakers Thursday, Feb. 20 at James Norris Physical Education Center. The Lakers head into the weekend 16-3 in the GLIAC and 24-3 overall, and are riding an eight game win-streak. The Lakers boast four players that average double-digit points per game and are led by senior guard Derek Billing, who averages 20.3 points.

Sall said Thursday’s game will be a good measuring stick to see how his team stands up against the GLIAC’s top team.

“The thing you admire about LSSU is they’re not overly athletic,” Sall said. “They don’t have a lot of size, they just play incredibly hard, very disciplined and they know how to play the right way, which is what we’re trying to get to.”

LSSU defeated NMU, 77-58, on Thursday, Jan. 30 at Berry Events Center. Sall said the Lakers have a solid team that does not make a lot of mistakes. “They execute their game plan almost to perfection,” Sall said. “The measuring stick is, ‘can you match their effort and go in there and compete?’”

NMU shot 43.1 percent from the floor in the loss as they made 22 of their 51 shots. Billing led the entire game in scoring, putting up 24 points for the Lakers.Nash said the Wildcats will keep their intensity as the team heads into the final road series of the season.

“We have to play these games as if we’re making the playoffs,” Nash said. “If you’re not playing hard, there’s no point in going out at all. We have to go out and compete.”The men will travel to Midland, Mich. to take on the Northwood Timberwolves Saturday, Feb. 22 at Bennett Center. The Wildcats last dropped a home match to the Northwood Timberwolves, 76-61, on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Junior guard Ethan Blackwell led NMU in scoring with 29 points in the loss. Both teams shot 48 percent from the floor in the game. The Timberwolves have lost three of their last four games and are coming off a 94-71 loss at Grand Valley State University. Northwood University sits in seventh place of the GLIAC with a conference record of 12-7, and 16-11 overall.

The Northwood Timberwolves offense is led by senior forward Wes Wilcox. Wilcox is averaging 19 points per game.

Nash said the team is playing for momentum to carry over into the next season.

“We have to keep getting better and making NMU’s basketball program better moving forward,” Nash said. “We’ll need to work on getting better and playing with each other like a family.”