Men’s basketball team heads into rivalry weekend

Lauren Lee

The men’s basketball team prepares for rivalry weekend this week as the ’Cats will go up against three GLIAC Division north rivals, which will include a trip to Houghton to take on the Michigan Tech Huskies Monday night.

The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals defeated NMU 65-43 Thursday, Jan. 22 in Saginaw, Mich. Saturday the ’Cats lost in the last seconds of the game to the Hillsdale College Chargers 59-58. NMU was up 58-52 with 59 seconds left on the clock but couldn’t clutch the win.

Head coach Bill Sall said the team is in the heart of league season and the team needs to take a tough loss as motivation to earn the next win.

“We had a real tough time on the road,” Sall said. “We need to try and rebound from that. We played incredibly hard and I was really proud of our effort. We had a lead and just didn’t close the game, so we need to find a way as a team to get ready to go.”

The Wildcats will kick off the weekend against the Lake Superior State University Lakers. LSSU travels to NMU with a 10-2 record in the GLIAC and 15-3 overall and come in riding a three-game win streak.

The Lakers average 74.3 points per game and 34.1 rebounds during their 18 games this season.

Leading the team in points for LSSU this season is senior guard Alex Williams averaging 13.7 points per game. Freshman guard Akaemji Williams leads the team with 38 steals averaging 2.1 per game for the Lakers’ defense.Last season the Lakers traveled to Berry Event Center defeating the Wildcats 77-58.

NMU’s sophomore guard Marcus Hall led the ’Cats with 16 points.

Sall said NMU needs to be on its toes to have a chance against the talented teams coming to Marquette this weekend.

“We’re playing two very well- coached teams,” Sall said. “Lake State is a very physical basketball team. They play incredibly hard and defend well, and we have to come in with some options on our offensive end to combat their pressure.”

The next opponent the Wildcats will welcome to Marquette will be the Northwood University Timberwolves at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31 at Berry Events Center.

The Timberwolves are fourth in the GLIAC with 7-5 conference record and 11-7 overall.

The Timberwolves are 2-6 in road play this season.

Northwood’s junior guard Maurice Jones leads the GLIAC in steals with 54.

Senior forward center Will Bowles is ranked second in the GLIAC in rebounds averaging 7.7 per game. Bowles also ranks third in the GLIAC in field goal points averaging 62.1 and is second in the GLIAC in blocks with 28.

Junior guard Terry Nash said the team needs to play fundamentally better.

“We have to be aggressive and start out working the other team,” Nash said. “We’re sharing the ball and competing with everybody. We’re playing as a team, and we have to start knocking down shots and rebound the ball better. If we get that part of our game down, we should come out with some wins.”

The ’Cats will hit the road for the final rivalry match against the Michigan Tech Huskies at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2 at the SDC Gym in Houghton.

Tech swept NMU in last season’s series between the two teams, taking the first match 69-58 Feb. 3 before coming to Berry Events Center and earning a 69-56 win Feb. 27.

Tech has a 9-3 record in the GLIAC and 12-4 overall and is riding a three-game win streak.

Senior guard Ben Stelzer is the Huskies’ leading scorer averaging 21.9 per game. Stelzer also ranks third in the conference for three-pointers averaging 46.2 points.

Tech has won six out of the last seven games played with their lone loss a 63-51 defeat to the  GLIAC leading Ferris State University Bulldogs Jan. 15 in Houghton.

Senior guard Larry Taylor said the team has great confidence heading into this weekend.

“We’re real hungry right now after losing a couple close games these past few wins, so we’re really hungry to get that big win,” Nash said. “Defense is what we pride ourselves on and we just have to have each others back on defense in scramble situations and make sure the other team can’t get any easy baskets. Be on the lookout for Wildcat basketball. We’re knocking on the door to get that first big win.”