The Northern Michigan University Men’s Basketball team dropped a pair of away contests last week, losing 78-60 on Thursday, Jan. 11 to Lake Superior State and 74-71 on Saturday, Jan. 13 to Ferris State.
Thursday’s game against Lake Superior State began the way the Wildcats wanted, with Northern controlling play in the early stages of the first half. At one point, NMU enjoyed a 31-20 lead, but a 10-0 run by the Lakers quickly put an end to what looked to be the beginning of a rout. At halftime, the Wildcats held a meager 40-38 lead.
After the half, NMU found difficulty shooting effectively, and LSSU went on a 19-0 run in the first seven minutes after the resumption of play. From there, the Wildcats trailed by no less than 13 points for the rest of the game, and the final score was 77-60 in favor of the Lakers.
“We came out in the first half and probably shot the best we’ve shot all year,” NMU assistant coach Charles Belt said of the game against the Lakers. “We were on a tear. A lot of that, I attribute to adrenaline. The adrenaline’s going, we were fired up for that game. We knew what that game meant. In the second half, they just out-toughed us.”
Leading the scoring for Northern was junior Isaiah Johnson with 16 points, while for Lake State is was Akaemji Williams with 18 points.
The Wildcats looked to bounce back in their game against Ferris State, a tough task considering that the Bulldogs were ranked seventh in the nation going into the game. The first half was quite close, with both teams playing toe-to-toe basketball. The lead went back and forth between the two teams on numerous occasions, and when halftime rolled around, NMU found themselves with a 30-26 lead.
Ferris State came out of the halftime break with a ferocity and tenacity that suits their mascot, and quickly pulled back ahead on the scoreboard. The Wildcats would not be denied their chance to make a comeback, however, and the game went down to the wire, with Northern trailing 72-71 with only 20 seconds left to play. The Bulldogs hit two free throws to go back up by three, and with the final seconds ticking off the clock, NMU’s attempt at a game-tying shot failed to find the basket. The final score was 74-71 in favor of Ferris State.
“The energy going into Saturday was really good,” Belt said. “It was the first time that we really felt that we got our butts kicked. Saturday, we were upset, but it was a good upset. We played a heck of a game. It was one of those games where, as a coach, you forget that you have the best seat in the house. It was one of those games that you just wanted to be in the building to watch. It was a really high-level basketball game. Obviously, the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but you regroup and get ready to hit the road again.”
The Wildcats’ leading scorer against Ferris was junior Naba Echols with 23 points, while on the Bulldogs’ side it was Zach Hankins with 20 points.
The Wildcats will next take the court on Thursday, Jan. 18, when they head to Grand Rapids for the third game of a five game road trip that also includes stops at Wayne State and Michigan Tech. The tip time for the game against Davenport is set for 7:30 p.m.