Sall disappointed in home opener

Ray Bressette

Opening night was a disappointing one for the NMU men’s basketball team, as the Walsh University Cavaliers were the team who left The Berry Events Center with the first GLIAC win of the 2015-16 season.

Walsh used a 60.7 shooting percentage in the second half of the conference opener to run toward a 80-60 win on Thursday, Dec. 3.

“I’m as disappointed as I’ve been since I came here,” NMU head coach Bill Sall said. “We did not play Wildcat basketball. We had a lot of students in the stands, and it would have been a great environment to compete in.

“I apologize to the fans who came out and saw us play like that, and I hope they give us another chance. That was not good enough.”

Freshman guard Naba Echols scored 20 points for the Wildcats, who only trailed the Cavaliers by a 31-27 score heading into the half.

But Walsh’s senior guard Jesse Hardin Jr. came out of the locker room in the second half with the offensive ability to put up 17 points in the second half alone, totaling 23 points in the game.

Harden’s offensive performance contributed to a 49-33 run in the second half over NMU, while their defense held the ’Cats to three assists. NMU was 0-5 on three-point attempts in the second half.

“Offensively we were really bad,” Sall said. “We didn’t share the ball or move it. We had a lot of one-one-one moves, and you absolutely cannot have just three assists in the game. A lot of our missed shots became transition baskets, and that wore us down in the second half.”

Sall said the only bright spots in the game were the performances from senior forward Donnell Cegars and sophomore forward Kenny Williams, who Sall said were the only players showing passion and desire.

Cegars found 16 minutes of playing time with nine points, while Williams played five minutes and scored two points on his only attempted basket of the night.

Fortunately, the ’Cats have the opportunity for a quick response from Thursday’s loss, with a home match against the Malone University Pioneers slated for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 at The Berry.

Malone suffered a loss of their own Thursday night, falling to the Michigan Tech Huskies 86-72 in Houghton.

“We’re going to have to find a way to turn it around,” Sall said. “As disappointing as [Thursday] was, you have to have a short memory. We have to show something more than that.”