BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team pulled within one point of the seventh-ranked Ferris State University team with 20 seconds to go, but were unable to pull off the upset, falling 74-71.
Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) finished with 23 points, making four three-pointers, and added six assists. Senior Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland CC) chipped in with 14 points. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) posted 13 points.
Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) ended the afternoon with a team-best 11 rebounds along with four blocks.
In the first half, the two teams played a tight 20 minutes, as NMU held the largest lead of the half at just six points in the final minute.
Ferris State scored first but then Johnson hit a three, followed by an Echols layup to put NMU ahead 5-2 three minutes in. After FSU tied the game, senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) hit a three, but the Bulldogs answered on the next possession.
After the first media timeout, Johnson hit two free throws, then sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) knocked in a jumper to put the Wildcats ahead 12-8. The hosts eventually tied the score for a third time, and after sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) converted a layup, FSU knocked in two free throws for another tie.
Out of the next timeout, Carius gave NMU back the lead, which Johnson followed with a bucket to put the Wildcats back up four with 8:04 to go in the first half. The hosts then grabbed the lead, 19-18, but Johnson made another layup to put NMU back on top, 20-19 with 5:57 left.
After another tie, Perez put NMU ahead 23-20. FSU answered with a four-point run before Tornes made a layup to get the Wildcats ahead 25-24 at the 3:40 mark. Taylor followed with a jumper before Echols hit another three-pointer to put NMU up 30-24 with 26 seconds to go in the half. The Bulldogs knocked down a jumper to end the half, sending NMU into the break with a 30-26 advantage.
Out of intermission, the hosts quickly tied the score, and eventually pulled ahead to a 59-45 lead with 7:46 left to play. On the Wildcats' next possession, Tornes knocked in a three-pointer and followed it with a free throw. After FSU scored again, Tornes answered with another three-pointer to cut the NMU deficit to single digits, 61-52.
The Bulldogs quickly answered with a three-pointer. Howard then made two free throws, followed by an Echols three to get the FSU lead down to 64-57. The teams traded baskets before Echols got fouled and made both free throws after a steal to make it 66-61 with 3:34 to go. Echols then hit a jumper to pull NMU within three, 66-63.
FSU scored again, but Carius made it 68-65 when he tipped in a rebound with just under two minutes remaining. After another FSU score, Echols made another three to help NMU pull within two, 70-58 with 1:30 remaining.
The hosts took back a four-point lead, 72-68 with 1:17 to go, but Tornes hit his third three-pointer of the game to make it 72-71 with just 20 seconds to go. However, FSU made two free throws to go back up three, and the NMU shot to tie the game was unsuccessful, resulting in the 74-71 final.
NMU displayed their best shooting of the season, hitting 11 of 18 three-pointers to finish 61 percent from behind the arc. Despite being out rebounded by two, the Wildcats also doubled the Bulldogs on second-chance opportunities, scoring 12 points.
The Wildcats fall to 9-7 on the season, 6-3 in the conference with the seventh-ranked Bulldogs improving to 18-1, 8-1 in the conference. NMU returns to action Thursday as they continue GLIAC play at Davenport.