ALLENDALE, Mich. — Sam Taylor scored 21 of his career-best 24 points in the second half to lead the Northern Michigan men's basketball team to an 82-77 victory over Grand Valley State Saturday afternoon at GVSU Fieldhouse Arena.
With 13:47 remaining in regulation, the Wildcats and Lakers were deadlocked in a 50-50 tie. Northern Michigan then used an 8-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back Marcus Matelski three-point shots, to take a 58-50 advantage at the 11:39 mark.
Taylor then made three-straight jump shots to grow the Wildcat edge to 11, at 66-55, with 7:42 on the clock.
Northern Michigan later took its largest lead of the game, a 16-point, 72-56 advantage, at the 4:02 mark after Taylor was fouled while making a jump shot and completed the three-point play by draining his free throw.
Grand Valley State battled back, drawing within four, at 79-75, after Juwan Starks made a three-point shot with 29 seconds remaining in regulation. But Taylor made both of his free throws, and Naba Echols made one of his, to close out the game.
In the first half, the teams were tied four times. With 12:08 on the clock, an Ian Hodges jump shot kicked off a 10-2 run that turned a 16-16 tie into a 26-18 Wildcat advantage.
The Lakers drew within one, at 33-32, with 2:50 left in the half. But Echols and Matelski sank shots from beyond the three-point arc on back-to-back possessions to put Northern Michigan up by seven points, at 39-32.
The Wildcats ultimately carried a 39-34 edge into the locker room after Justin Greason sank a pair of free throws with 1:12 on the clock.
Echols surpassed the 20-point threshold for the fourth-straight game, posting 21. Matelski also contributed 14 points.
Echols dished out a game-best six assists while Taylor hauled in a team-high five rebounds.
Taylor's previous career-best total in points was 21, set at Lake Superior State on Feb. 2. This is only the second time he exceeded the 20-point plateau.
For Grand Valley State (16-11, 12-8 GLIAC), Greason had 24 points while Trevin Alexander posted 17.
Northern Michigan shot 54.5 percent from the floor, 46.4 from three and 64.3 from the free-throw line. The Wildcats sank 13 three-point shots during the contest.
With the win, Northern Michigan improves to 8-17 (6-14 GLIAC). The Wildcats wrap up the 2016-17 campaign at rival Michigan Tech on Feb. 23. The game will be televised on Fox UP/TV6.