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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

    Conference race heats up

    Junior guard Sam Taylor drives the lane against a Michigan Tech University defender in a 63-59 win. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics

    Once the Northern Michigan University Men’s Basketball team fell behind by 12 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half against their rivals, the Michigan Tech University Huskies last Saturday, they had to find a spark to rally themselves back in the game. A three-point shot by Naba Echols provided that spark.

    The star senior guard scored 23 points in the game, with 13 of those coming in the first half, to help the Wildcats beat the Huskies 63-59.

    At that key moment in the game, Echols said that someone had to step up and give them a push.

    “With getting a key rebound, playing defense, and seeing that Isaiah Johnson was struggling, I took it upon myself to get everybody else ready to go,” Echols said. “It doesn’t matter how much we’re down at home, I always felt we’re still in the game.”

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    Head coach Bill Sall said the coaches used an early timeout to dial up some adjustments.

    “From our guys, there was no panic, but we had to change up our gameplan a bit,” Sall said. “We really focused on their guards and tried to take them away and get help from those guys, but their forwards made their shots.

    “Sometimes the best of gameplans go to waste quickly and that’s what happened.”

    The Huskies started off the game leading 12-5 after sinking four threes, three of them from Trent Bell. Echols scored five straight points to make it 12-10. Tech continued their strong start as another three from Bell made it 22-10. Then, Echols sank a momentum-changing three which helped NMU rally back to within one. The Wildcats would take a 25-24 lead after a layup by junior guard Sam Taylor and did not relinquish the lead the rest of the game.

    The game stayed close until a three from Taylor stretched NMU’s lead to 34-28. The Wildcats took a 37-30 lead into halftime after a missed three from Tech’s Bryan Heath.

    Tech started the second half on a five-point scoring run, then the Wildcats scored their own five points to make it 42-37. NMU extended their lead to 53-40 after a three from junior guard Marcus Matelski. Down by nine with 2:20 remaining, the Huskies attempted a late comeback but came up short as free throws from Echols and sophomore guard Alec Fruin sealed NMU’s 63-59 win.

    Echols finished perfect from the free-throw line for the second straight game, going 6-for-6. Following Echols in scoring was Taylor with 13 points and redshirt-freshman forward/center Troy Summers with eight.

    “We just had to make our shots,” Summers said. “When we finally played with [defensive] pressure versus them, we got on that good run.”

    With their winning streak now to three, the Wildcats are listed in third place and back within one game in the GLIAC North Division lead and in the top five overall.

    With the lead within reach, Sall said the whole conference is still anybody’s ballgame.

    “Everybody’s beating up on everybody, but since now we’re only one game out of first, we just gotta get on the road and win,” Sall said.

    NMU will be on their first road stint in three weeks as they face off against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers in Kenosha at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, and then at the Purdue Northwest University (PNW) Pride at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.

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