Wildcats to finish season against Huskies

Trevor Drew

The men’s basketball team took on the Lake Superior State Lakers and the Northwood Timberwolves in their final weekend of home games in the season and will prepare to take on Michigan Tech for their final game.re-MBball1_JR

The ’Cats walked away with both a loss and a win in their remaining home games. Head coach Bill Sall thought that during this weekend’s games the team had overall good performance and worked well offensively. But in order to win their last game, they will need to improve on defending as a unit.

“If you look at both games, like the course of the season has been, it came down to the last couple of minutes,” Sall said.

The men’s team lost against the Lake Superior State Lakers Thursday. The teams were tied in the opening minutes until a triple from freshman guard Naba Echols and a jump shot made by sophomore guard Jordan Perez gave the Wildcats the edge at 4-9. The Lakers took their first lead of the game after Laker’s Josh Goldschmidt made a three-point jump shot with 7:48 left in the half. Both teams battled to regain the lead, but the Lakers came out on top, leading 38-35 at the end of the first half.

NMU came into the second half with Perez cutting the Lakers’ lead by making a jump shot at 1:21 into the second half, bringing the score to 38-37. After a three-point jumper made by Lake Superior State’s Jordan Dasuqi, the Lakers earned their biggest lead of the game at 52-43 with 14:06 remaining. The ’Cats responded to this deficit with an 8-point run, cutting the Lakers’ lead 52-51. A triple from junior Marcus Hall brought the lead back to the ‘Cats with 11:28 left, making the score 53-54. The two teams struggled to take control of the lead with the score tied at 69-69 with 4:52 left. The lock was broken as the Lakers gained the lead and managed to defeat the Wildcats 83-74.

The Wildcats returned to the court on Saturday and walked away with a victory against the Northwood Timberwolves. Senior Donnell Cegers and Echols led the ’Cats, scoring 18 points each.

The team started out of the gates with the lead when senior Terry Nash made a three point jumper in the first 20 seconds of the game. After an 8-point run by the Wildcats, they established an early lead of 6-13 with 15:26 left. The ’Cats would build off this lead and earn their biggest lead after freshman Isaiah Johnson dunked an offensive rebound to make it 13-24 with 8:33 left in the half. Northern Michigan maintained this lead into the second half.

The Wildcats continued throughout the second half and built a 10-point lead at 16:07, 44-34. The Timberwolves then clawed their way back to take their first lead of the game at 9:07 after a layup by Northwood player PJ Weaver, making the score 51-50. The Wildcats then responded with a 6-point run taking back the lead at 51-56.

The Timberwolves struggled to make a comeback but managed to reduce NMU’s lead to one point, 71-70, with 18 seconds left in the game. After a foul by Northwood player Nick Spitzley, Echols drained two free-throw shots, bringing the score to a more comfortable 70-73 lead. In the last moments, the Timberwolves fought back with two failed three-point shots, and Perez punctuated NMU’s victory with a defensive rebound.

The team will hit the road for Houghton to take on rival Michigan Tech on their home court Feb. 25. The ’Cats last faced off against the Huskies Feb. 7 when NMU lost 69-56 on their home court. During the first half, the ’Cats struggled to keep up with the Huskies as the opposition built a 14-point lead with the score at 40-26 going into the second half. The Wildcats managed to keep themselves in the game after cutting Tech’s lead to 59-50 with 5:32 left in the game. During the span of their run, Perez made back to back triples and Hall made a long 3-point shot. Despite the effort, the Huskies managed to keep the ’Cats behind them and win the game.

With the loss behind them, the men’s team is gearing up to take on their rival for their final game. The team, as well as the coaching staff, feel they didn’t properly treat their previous game against Michigan Tech  as a rivalry game and are eager to bring their top game to Houghton, Sall said.

“We are looking forward to the challenge,” Sall said. “I’m really confident we will go into this game with the right mindset and take on the really tough task of beating Tech at home.”