Sall earns first win at Ferris with NMU

Lauren Lee

The men’s basketball team will get another chance to play two opponents that downed the Wildcats earlier this season when the ’Cats host the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals Thursday, Feb. 12 and the Hillsdale Chargers Saturday, Feb. 14 at Berry Events Center.
The ’Cats are coming off a weekend where they lost a match late to the Grand Valley State University Lakers before defeating NMU head coach Bill Sall’s former team, the Ferris State University Bulldogs on the road.
Grand Valley ended a six game losing streak this past weekend defeating NMU 60-54
GVSU lead at halftime 28-23 against the ’Cats after a 14-4 run. With 4:04 remaining in the second half, NMU went on a 10-1 cutting the deficit down to one with GVSU leading 50-49.
The Lakers closed the game on a 10-5 streak going 6-7 from the free throw line to seal the win.
Thursday, Feb. 5 at Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale, Mich.
Junior guard Terry Nash left the game against Grand Valley with a broken leg, and will miss the remainder of the season.
Senior guard Larry Taylor said Nash’s leadership will inspire the team moving forward.
“We really just rallied around Terry,” Taylor said. “He’s really down about his injury so everytime we go out there we just do it for him because he can’t be on the court.”
The Cats upset the No. 17-ranked Ferris State University Bulldogs with a 73-71 win against Sall’s former team.
Sall said he was proud of his team’s performance against one of the countries top teams.
“I can’t even tell you the last time that Northern has beat a ranked opponent on the road,” Sall said. “It felt very good and I was very happy with how our guys played. Our guys really played within themselves and we had Terry Nash go down with an injury against Grand Valley and I thought they really responded and played for their team that was hurt as well.”
NMU went 7-12 from behind the three-point line and shot 29-49 from the field. Senior forward Chavis Mattison and sophomore guard Marcus Hall lead the team scoring 20 points each. Mattison recorded his fifth straight double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs went on a 7-2 run taking their second lead in the game at 68-67 with 3:11 left in play.
Mattison clutched the lead for the ’Cats scoring a layup with five seconds left on the clock to seal the 73-71 win.
The victory was Sall’s second win over Ferris since leaving the university in 2013, his first in Big Rapids. Sall coached the Bulldogs for 11 seasons.
Mattison said NMU won’t be at a disadvantage only having eight players hitting the court the rest of the season.
“I feel I have been putting in a lot more effort than start of season,” Mattison said. “So now it’s just trying to be consistent. I believe everyone is going to step up with our point guard Terry being out, he’s one of our good defensive players especially, so I feel now that we have more injuries on the team it’s going to push us to do better.”
NMU will face the GLIAC North Division leading Saginaw Valley Cardinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 at Berry Events Center.
The Cardinals are on a three game win streak, and are undefeated on the road at 7-0.
Earlier in the season SVSU defeated NMU 65-43 Thursday, Jan. 22 in Saginaw.
Saginaw Valley has a 19-4 record overall and 15-2 in the conference averaging 74.3 points per game.
Taylor said the team needs to go out and seal the deal this weekend.
“It was a big win for our coach,” Taylor said. “First win against Ferris since he’s been here so it was a big win in that regard and they are ranked 17 in the nation so that was a good feeling. Now we go on to face another great team Saginaw Valley they were just ranked 20 in the nation this week so just got to come out and play good team defense and move the ball on offense.”
The Wildcats will face off against the Hillsdale Chargers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 at Berry Event Center.
Mattison said the Wildcats know how to clutch the win against the Chargers after a loss earlier in the season.
“We just have to defend better and rebound,” Mattison said. “They out rebounded us a lot more the last game and it’s more important now that we take advantage of that and do way better on rebounding because they killed us on that.”
The Chargers are entering the weekend on a three game losing streak with a 10-11 overall record and 8-9 in the conference. Junior forward Kyle Cooper for Hillsdale is the leading scorer in the GLIAC averaging 10.3 rebounds per game. Cooper’s teammate, junior guard Zach Miller is second in the conference in assists with 133 this season.
Sall said the ’Cats need to improve with every game.
“It’s going to be a huge game as they’re playing really well,” Sall said. “They are very well coached, every game we play right now is tough the GLIAC is ranked the toughest conference in Division II right now and rightfully. Every game we play is a tough tough battle. Our first goal is to come and play Saginaw Valley that is ranked 20 in the country but against Hillsdale we have to see if we can play a little better down the stretch.”