MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball Team opened their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season by defeating Northwood University 82-71.
Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) led the way with 23 points. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) added 22 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather) scored a career-high 12 points.
After a free throw to start the game by the Timberwolves, NMU scored six-straight points, as Johnson made a free throw, which sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) followed with a three-pointer. Echols then scored his first points of the game with a layup to put the Wildcats ahead 6-1 less than two minutes into the game.
Northwood pulled within 12-10 at the first media timeout. Out of the break, NMU went on a 9-2 run. Olayinka hit two free throws, then senior Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland C.C.) scored five-straight points. After a Timberwolves jumper, an Olayinka layup put the Wildcats ahead 21-12. The visitors brought the lead down to 21-16, but a jumper by Tayler, a three-pointer by senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) and another layup and free throw by Olayinka gave NMU a 29-21 lead with 9:35 to go in the first.
After Echols gave NMU a 10-point, 31-21 lead, Northwood shrank it to 31-25. The Wildcats answered with an 11-3 run and pushed out to a 42-28 lead for the largest lead of the first half with 5:33 to go in the first. Echols started the rally with a jumper. Junior Max Prendergast (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids West Catholic) and Taylor followed with a layup each. Echols then added another layup, and a three-point play by Johnson gave NMU the large lead.
The Timberwolves chipped away at the lead throughout the remainder of the half and NMU took a 46-40 lead into halftime.
To start the half, Echols and Johnson scored six points but Northwood answered and it was 52-46 with 17:14 to go in the game. Taylor then hit a layup, followed by another three-point play by Olayinka. Layups by Olayinka and Johnson pushed NMU out to a 61-46 advantage with 13 minutes remaining.
Northwood responded and narrowed the gap to just five points, 64-59 with 8:36 on the clock. A layup and an old-fashioned three-pointer by Echols, two layups by Johnson and two free throws by Perez answered five NU points, leading to a 76-64 lead at the final media timeout. Over the final 3:41, Johnson hit a layup and Echols made two more free throws to give NMU the 82-71 final score.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 4-3, 1-0 in the GLIAC while Northwood falls to 2-4, 0-1 in the league. NMU returns to action Saturday at 11 a.m. and will take on GLIAC foe Saginaw Valley State University on Gene Summers Appreciation Day.