Marquette, Mich. — Northern Michigan University hosts their rival Michigan Technological University Sunday in a matchup between two teams tied for first place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They will then head to the University of Minnesota Duluth on Tuesday to conclude the first half of their season.
The game begins at 1 p.m. in the Berry Events Center. Sunday's game is also an opportunity to support the local community through Rock Your Socks. Children who bring new socks to the game will receive free admission. All donated socks will be donated to various organizations throughout the community.
For continued updates throughout the games, please follow @NMU_Wildcats on Twitter.
Last week versus PNW: The Wildcats visited Purdue University Northwest last Thursday for their first GLIAC road contest of the season and came away with an 80-73 victory. Five players reached double-figures as the team shot nearly 53% from the field.
First OT of the year: On Saturday, NMU visited Grand Valley State University for another GLIAC tilt. In a tight affair, the Wildcats took the Lakers into overtime, the first overtime game of the seaon for Northern Michigan. Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) led the team with 21 points, including a season-best 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) tallied a career-high 13 rebounds on the way to a 71-68 NMU overtime victory.
Hot Start: The Wildcats are 4-0 to start the conference schedule for the first time since the 2005-06 season. During their winning-streak, NMU is outscoring their opponents 79.8 to 70.2 points a game. They are also shooting 47% from the field while holding the other team to 40%.
Echol's takes over: Echols scored 18 of the team's 21 points in the games final 10 minutes to lead the Wildcats to victory Saturday. Starting with 4:18 to go in regulation, Echols scored 13 straight points to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, he scored five of the team's eight points, including three free throws down the stretch to seal the NMU victory.
Senior leadership: Down 41-30 in the middle of the second half, senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) showed his senior leadership. With the Wildcats down 11, Perez hit back-to-back three-pointers to reduce the margin to five points, 41-36, and helped swing momentum back to the NMU squad.
Three in double-digits: Three players are averaging double-figures in scoring this season, led by Johnson's 17.5. Echols is close behind, coming in at 17.3 points per game while sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) adds 10.4 points a game. Sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) is just shy of the double-digit mark, averaging 9.5 points a game. Senior Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland C.C.) is also close, averaging 8.6 points per outing this season.
Defense wins games: Aiding the Wildcats this season is success on the defensive end. NMU has nearly doubled their opponents on blocked shots, posting 49 blocks compared to their opponents 24. Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) leads the team with 21 on the season and is near the top of the GLIAC rankings. They have also forced their opponents into more turnovers and have notched more steals, holding a 67-50 edge on the season.
The rivalry: The NMU-Michigan Tech rivalry dates back to the 1911-12 season, with NMU winning the first-ever matchup 38-19. The Wildcats hold an overall 130-79 advantage over the Huskies, including winning 24-straight in the 1960s-1970s. Michigan Tech has won the past five matchups, inluding three wins in Marquette. Last season, the Huskies collected a 76-62 victory over NMU in the Berry Events Center. The Huskies enter Sunday's contest at 7-3 and 4-0 in the GLIAC. On a current five-game winning streak, Michigan Tech's Kyle Monroe has been named the GLIAC North Player of the week the past two weeks and leads the GLIAC with 26.4 points a game.
NMU versus UMD: UMD enters Tuesday's contest at 2-6 on the season and are yet to get victory in their conference, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Bulldogs defeated Michigan Tech earlier in the season, 84-69, and followed it with a 71-70 victory over University of Wisconsin-Parkside. NMU holds a slight edge over the Bulldogs with a 35-34 all-time record in the series. Last season, the Wildcats came away with a 71-65 victory.