Men’s basketball enters final weekend

Julie Goldberg

The Wildcat basketball team hosts their final home games of the season when they play Lake Superior State University and Northwood University this week.

During the Saturday, Feb. 20 game against Northwood, the Wildcats honor seniors guard Terry Nash and forward Donnell Cegers for senior day.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the Wildcats lost to the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals 67-66. Cegers had a game-high 24 points for the ’Cats.

“It was a tough loss,” Cegers said. “Losing by one is always tough.”re-Men'sBball1_ET

The Wildcats got off to a fast start, opening up a 12-6 lead at the 14:32 mark when Nash found Cegers for a layup. NMU grew their lead later in the first half to nine, for a total of 25-16, after a Cegers layup.

The Wildcats had a 41-24 lead at half, but the Cardinals outscored them 43-25 in the second half.

“It was a heartbreaking loss,” head coach Bill Sall said. “I thought we played incredibly well, battled really hard and did some good things.”

The Wildcats had a 66-64 lag with four seconds remaining in the game when Saginaw Valley State guard Garrett Hall made a three-pointer to give the Cardinals the victory.

“It would have been a huge win for us,” Sall said. “We have struggled in key scenarios to finish and that was another one of those games.”

The Wildcats lost to the Hillsdale Chargers 85-70 on Saturday, Feb. 13. Echols led the ‘Cats with 20 points, while Cegers had 17 points.

The Wildcats were down 39-35 at the end of the first half, and were outscored 46-35 in the second half. Hillsdale had their largest lead of the game at 21 with 6:33 left in the second half.

Hillsdale had 42 points in the paint compared to the
Wildcats’ 28.

“We played well in the first half,” Sall said. “We let it get away from us in the second half.  We ran into foul trouble and we just couldn’t match up at all with them.”

On Thursday, Feb. 18, the Wildcats will play the Lake Superior State University Lakers. The Lakers are 16-8 this season and fifth in the conference with an 11-7 record.

The Wildcats played the Lakers back in January and the Lakers won 65-56. Freshman guard Naba Echols led the ‘Cats with 13 points.

Laker forward Devin Daly led them with 16 points and six rebounds in the first matchup.

On Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’Cats play the Northwood University Timberwolves on senior day. The Timberwolves are 14-11 with a 10-9 conference record this
season.

The Wildcats played the Timberwolves in January and won 82-69. Junior guard Marcus Hall led the ’Cats with 19 points.

The Timberwolves were led by forward Zach Allread and guard Dylan Langkabel, who had 12 points each in the January matchup.

“We have to do what we normally do,” Cegers said. “Sticking to our game plan is really big. We have a tough time playing two halves of basketball, and we usually get away from our game plan so if we stick to that the whole game, we’ll do just fine.”

Cegers is a transfer from St. Cloud State. In his only season as a Wildcat, Cegers has averaged 9.4 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Nash has averaged 9.8 points per game and 3.1 assists per game during his career. Nash was named Humanitarian of the Year last year for community service and his work with NMU’s Upward Bound.

“Cegers came in as a transfer with one year remaining ,and it’s been great to see him progress as a player,” Sall said. “Nash has been with me from the beginning. He stayed around when I came in and he’s been a special player, and it’s been a joy to coach him. For both of them, we’re sad to see them go.”

The Wildcats are 6-17 this
season.

“The thing for us is to do a good job on our end of continuing to work and try to gain some momentum for next season,” Sall said. “We have to try to get in a situation where we can get a couple of good positive wins for our seniors. That is the attitude we need to come with.”