Second Half Rally Powers Wildcats to Victory

Second Half Rally Powers Wildcats to Victory

DETROIT, Mich. – The Men's Basketball team for Northern Michigan University scored 49 points in the second half, including a 19-0 run, to defeat Wayne State University 83-74 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Thursday afternoon. 

The 49 points is the most points scored in any half for the Wildcats this season.  Helping to guide NMU to victory was junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), who finished with a career-high 30 points.  Johnson finished the game 11 of 16 from the field, including five of six from the three-point line and was perfect from the free throw line.

Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) added 20 points and has now scored 1,000 points for his career at Northern Michigan. Echols went 14-16 from the free throw line and posted six assists.

Senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Mich.) and sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) both chipped in with 10 points each. Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) posted a team-best eight rebounds.

Carius started the game by hitting a three-pointer, which Johnson followed on the next possession to put NMU ahead 6-2 early. After WSU narrowed the gap, Echols sank a jumper and Johnson made a layup and the Wildcats held a 10-4 lead just over three minutes into the game. The hosts hit back-to-back threes to tie the game, but Perez but NMU back on top, 12-10 with a layup.

After WSU hit a three to take the lead, Johnson hit a layup to put the Wildcats back in front, 14-13. The Warriors managed to tie the game again at 15-15 before Johnson converted a three-point play.  The hosts responded with an eight-point run and held a 23-18 lead with 6:53 left in the first half until sophomore Ian Hodges (Flint, Mich./Holly) sank two free throws to narrow the gap. WSU answered with two free throws followed by a three pointer to go back up 28-20 at the 4:05 mark. 

The Wildcats chipped away at the WSU lead and eventually tied the game with 55 seconds to go with another Johnson three-pointer.  WSU answered with a three, but Echols made a layup to close out the half, sending the game into the break with NMU trailing 35-34.

The Warriors extended the lead in the second half by six points, 50-44 with 14:35 on the clock. Perez responded with another three-pointer which began a 19-0 run for the Wildcats. Sophomore Kenton Mack (Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs) tied the game with a three, making it 50-50 with 12:16 to go in the game.  On the next NMU possession, sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) gave NMU a 52-50 lead. Carius then hit a jumper and a free throw, which Perez followed with an old-fashioned three-pointer to make it 58-50 with 8:47 left.

After an Echols steal, Johnson knocked in a three, and Echols made two more free throws before the Warriors managed to hit two free throws for their first score in seven minutes of play.  Echols answered with two more free throws, and Johnson extended the NMU lead up to 15 points, 67-52, with 6:34 to play.

This time, WSU would go on a run, scoring 10 straight points to make it 67-62 with just 3:27 to go. Johnson ended the NMU drought with a jumper, then hit a three on the next Wildcat possession. After a Warrior bucket, Echols hit four free throws to put NMU ahead 76-64 with just over a minute to play.

Wayne State managed to pull within 78-72 with 42 seconds remaining, but NMU made free throws down the stretch to capture the 83-74 victory. 

Northern Michigan finished the day shooting 49 percent from the field, including going 9-18 from behind the arc and 26-32 from the free throw line. The bench also made a difference as NMU received 15 points from their reserves, as opposed to just three by Wayne State.

With the win, the Wildcats improved to 10-7 on the year and 7-3 during GLIAC play with the Warriors now 8-8 overall with a 6-5 record in the conference. NMU awaits more information before rescheduling their game at Davenport University. They will visit rival Michigan Technological University on January 28.