MOORHEAD, Minn. – In a game that saw a total of 12 tied scores, the Men's Basketball Team for Northern Michigan University led Southwest Minnesota State University at the half but were unable to hang on as they fell 85-78 in their second game of the Microtel Classic.
Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) led all scorers with 23 points, finishing the game 9-11 from the field. Johnson tied sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) for the team's lead in rebounding as both posted eight boards. Carius and Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland CC) notched 14 points each on the night to aid the effort. Carius, sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) and sophomore Ian Hodges (Flint, Mich./Holly) notched three assists each.
Defensively, Carius and freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill/Mather) finished with two blocks each. As a team, the Wildcats finished with seven blocks.
The first half saw five ties. Southwest Minnesota got as far as a nine-point lead which NMU answered to tie the game at 24-24 with over seven minutes to go in the half. The Mustangs then took a four point lead, but two Johnson three-pointers put the Wildcats ahead by two. At the end of the half, Hodges knocked in a layup to give NMU a 42-38 halftime lead.
NMU extended their lead to six with an early Carius layup, but back-to back threes by the Mustangs tied the score once again. The teams would fight through six more ties, with the score tied 64-64 with 8:49 to go. However, Southwest Minnesota State grasped control, going on an 8-0 run the next two minutes to take a 72-64 lead with 6:37 left. The Wildcats managed to reduce the deficit to five points, but the Mustangs made their free throws down the stretch to win 85-78.
Despite the close game, NMU falls to 2-2 on the season. They will look to bounce back on Friday as they take on the College of St. Rose Friday evening in the 34th Annual Gary Miller Classic hosted by Gannon University..