MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University's Men's Basketball team bounced back from an early 9-0 deficit, but ended up falling to Ashland University 55-54 in a tight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup.
Senior Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland C.C.) led the Wildcats with 18 points. Sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) added 12 points while sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) chipped in with 11.
Ashland jumped out to a 9-0 lead less than three minutes into the game before NMU would answer with nine-straight points to tie the game. Tornes got to the basket for a layup for NMU's first score, then Johnson knocked in a jumper followed by a Taylor layup. Tornes then tied the score with a three-pointer at the 13:53 mark.
The guests responded and jumped ahead 14-9, but Tornes hit another three-pointer to make it 14-12. The Eagles then pushed ahead 28-15 with 3:59 to go in the half. However, NMU would end the half on an 8-2 run. Freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather) started the run with a layup which Carius and Johnson followed with jumpers. After another Ashland basket, sophomore Ian Hodges (Flint, Mich./Flint) hit two free throws to make the Ashland lead 30-23 as the team's entered the break.
NMU opened the second half on a 9-0 run. Carius started the run with a free throw and then Tornes, Johnson, and Taylor each made layups. A Carius layup gave the Wildcats a 32-30 lead. The Wildcats then pushed their lead up to 37-33 with 13:59 to go in the game. The two teams continued to battle to a 40-40 tie with 11 minutes to go.
Carius gave NMU back the lead with a free throw, then Tornes made a layup to put the hosts up 43-40. After two free throws by the Eagles, Tornes scored again, but two more free throws by AU made it 45-44. Carius hit a free throw, but a three-point play by the guests gave Ashland a 47-46 lead with 2:43 to go.
Ashland extended the lead with a tip-in, then hit two more free throws to go up 51-46. Tornes narrowed the gap to 51-48 by hitting two free throws with 1:21 to go. Over the next minute, both teams fought through offensive struggles until Carius pulled NMU within 51-50 with a dunk while six seconds remained on the clock.
A foul sent the Eagles to the line, where they made two free throws. Taylor was then fouled on the next NMU possession, but made just one of two free throws. After AU made two more free throws to go up 55-51, Taylor swished in a half-court shot, but it was only for three points, making the score a 55-54 final.
With the loss, NMU fell to 9-5 on the season and suffered their first GLIAC loss of the year and are 6-1 in league play. Ashland improved to 12-3 overall, 5-2 in the GLIAC. The Wildcats return to action Thursday and will visit #24 Lake Superior State University in another GLIAC tilt.