NMU men’s hoops split weekend home tilts


FINAL FIVE—The Wildcats have reached the last leg of the regular season, as there are only five regular season games left. NMU has three at-home games, but first it must travel on the road for a big game against the Lake Superior State University Lakers on Thursday, Feb. 13. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

The weekend started off strong for the NMU Men’s Basketball team with a win over University of Wisconsin-Parkside. In the second game of the weekend series against Purdue-Northwest University (PNWU), the ‘Cats had a poor performance for the ages.

NMU lost to PNWU 65-62 in overtime on Saturday, Feb. 8, in a game that the Wildcats shot an unbelievably low 21% (9-42) on two-point attempts. After scoring a combined 26 points in the entire second half and extra overtime period, it left Head Coach Matt Majkrzak with a lot of questions.

“I watched a lot of film, not just from that game, but to figure out what we can do to get our offense going. I spent a lot of time Saturday night and Sunday just trying to figure out any magic formula,” Majkrzak said. “I don’t know if I came up with one, but definitely just spent a lot of time trying to kind of piece together how we could play that poorly on offense.”

Things weren’t all bad for the ‘Cats in Saturday’s game, they were leading the Pride 36-28 at halftime behind a strong offensive output. That was where the positives stopped offensively however, the box score was unbearable. 

Preseason All-GLIAC senior forward Myles Howard shot 0-8 from the floor, finishing with three points off of free throws with 19 rebounds. Junior guard Alec Fruin scored only six points while shooting 2-11 for the game. Senior guard Sam Taylor led the team with 17 points and hit a buzzer beater to send the game to overtime, but it took him 21 shots to do so. This was an outing that could never happen again to NMU if it tried, even Majkrzak couldn’t process it.

“It was fascinating watching the game in some ways because it felt like there were about 10-15 things that if any one of them would’ve broke our way, we win. And none of them did, it was tough because I think our effort was there, I think our energy was there, execution wasn’t necessarily there but it also wasn’t terrible. We just couldn’t finish,” Majkrzak said. “We’ve had our fair share of offensive issues, but I don’t think any of them have been that before. It was kind of weird to watch on film and live, it felt very just different and odd. It was almost like one of those games where you expected something to happen that never did.”

After what seemed like a gut punch of a loss, the ‘Cats don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves as they face off with Upper Peninsula rival Lake Superior State University (LSSU) on Thursday, Feb. 13.  NMU is currently up one game on LSSU in the GLIAC standings, and potentially missing the GLIAC Tournament. As the season is on the home stretch, the margin for error is slim.

“This is to me in a lot of ways, our biggest game of the year. And I kind of thought going into the year, this was one I kind of had in my mind as an absolutely huge game, both Lake State games,” Majkrzak said. “With a loss, we’re probably on the outside looking in, maybe not directly in the standings, but if you look at schedules and some of that kind of stuff, it makes the road a whole lot harder. So absolutely a huge game in kind of all the ways.”

The Wildcats and Lakers do battle in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13.