ERIE, Pa. -- The game saw eight ties and 14 lead changes, but Northern Michigan University's Men's Basketball Team fell 65-62 in the Gary Miller Classic Championship Game to the host, Gannon University. Juniors Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) and Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) were named to the All-Tournament Team after the game.
Senior Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland CC) and Echols paced the offense with 12 points each and sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) added 10 points. Tornes led the team with three assists and two steals while Echols posted a team-best five rebounds.
Johnson and sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) chipped in with nine points each. Carius notched two assists on the night.
The Golden Knights scored first but NMU answered with a three to go ahead 3-2. The teams fought to their first tie, 7-7 at the 16:38 mark. The hosts jumped back ahead and extended a lead to 11-7 but a jumper by Echols and a three by Tornes gave the Wildcats back the lead.
The two teams exchanged leads until 9:43 to go in the half when Taylor hit a three to tie the game at 22-22. Echols then gave NMU a lead, but Gannon responded to tie the game again, 24-24. Taylor gave NMU another lead, but two Gannon free throws tied it once again, this time at 26-26.
The teams continued to exchanged leads and ties until 2:33 to go in the half and the score tied at 32-32. At this point, the Wildcats closed out the half on a 6-0 run. Johnson hit a jump shot, followed by two free throws by Tornes and a Carius jumper to take a 38-32 lead into the half.
Gannon opened the second half on a 12-4 run to take a 44-42 lead. They gradually pulled ahead 55-48 with 8:24 in the game, the seven point lead being the largest of the game.
Tornes answered on NMU's next possession with another three-pointer, and then took advantage of a steal by Taylor to make a jumper and pull NMU within two, 55-53 with 7:19 to play. With five minutes remaining, Johnson hit a three to give the Wildcats the lead, 56-55.
After a Golden Knight jumper to give the hosts the lead back, Taylor made a jumper, then Echols hit two free throws to put NMU up by three, 60-57 with 2:43 to go. Gannon managed to score on their next two possessions and went up 61-60 with 57 seconds remaining.
After a missed jump shot by Tornes, Carius was sent to the free throw line and put the Wildcats up 62-61 with 41 seconds left.
With 25 seconds on the clock, Gannon took a 63-62 lead. The Wildcats would control the ball for the next 20 seconds, when Echols drove to the basket looking to give NMU the lead. However, Echols would be called for an offensive foul, giving the hosts back the ball. Another late Wildcat foul and two made free throws by the Golden Knights gave Gannon the 65-62 victory.
For the game, the Wildcats saw fewer opportunities at the charity stripe, as Gannon went 20-27 from the free throw line compared to NMU's 6-10.
With the loss, NMU falls to 3-3 on the season while Gannon improved to 4-2. The Wildcats return to action Thursday evening and will open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with Northwood University in their regular season home opener.