Road trip before Tech slated for men’s basketball team

Ray Bressette

The men’s basketball team will host their U.P. rival, the Michigan Tech Huskies, for a Monday night showdown this week at the Berry Events Center.

But before they welcome in their foes from Houghton, the ’Cats will try to get their first conference victory away from the Berry this season.re-IMG_6988

“We really need to get a road win,” NMU head coach Bill Sall said. “We’re 0-6 on the road this season, and we’re in the process of teaching and learning these scenarios as much as we can.”

Action will begin for the Wildcats this weekend with a trip to their second U.P. rival, the Lake Superior State University Lakers, at 7:30 p.m. in Cooper Gym in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The Lakers are once again among the top teams in the GLIAC playoff push, tied with two teams for third place in the conference with an 8-4 record. LSSU has flirted with national rankings the past few seasons, and despite the Lakers taking seven-straight against the ’Cats, Sall’s Wildcats competed with their rival in both matches last season until the final minutes of each game.

“One of the biggest hurdles we’ve faced since I’ve come here is not matching LSSU’s overall physical play and their tenacity,” Sall said. “They’ve outworked and outcompeted us every time we’ve played them. I’m hoping it’s just another hurdle we’ve overcome, and we’ll go into a tough environment with a chance to win in the end.”

LSSU is equipped with the GLIAC’s second leading scorer, 6-foot-4-inch senior forward Devin Daly, who is averaging 21.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Akaemji Williams is averaging 18.4 points per game for the Lakers.

On Saturday, NMU will face the Northwood University Timberwolves at 3 p.m. in
Midland, Mich.

The Timberwolves are led by the GLIAC’s third leading scorer, senior guard Maurice Jones, who is averaging 21 points per game.

“On any given night, they can put up 90 points, then other nights they’ll only come up and score 60 points,” Sall said. “They have a threat that when they’re rolling, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the league. You really have to be focused and ready to play.”

Northwood is ninth in the conference at 6-6, one game out of the playoff picture.

NMU sits 14th in the conference, as they’ve battled injuries all season. The Wildcats’ leading scorer Jordan Perez missed action last weekend due to injury last week, and the team hopes to have Perez back against Tech on Monday.

The Huskies sit 11th in the conference at 5-7 and have lost four of their last five games.

NMU defeated the Huskies in their first match against their rival last season 67-62 on Feb. 2 in Houghton.

Sall said NMU will keep Tech in the back of their minds while they hit the road this weekend.

“It’s always a good rival game,” Sall said. “Regardless of records, this one is always in red letters. Let’s hope we’re taking this week one game at a time, but we still have Tech in our rearview mirror. It’s a huge week for us.”