MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team claimed a 90-74 victory over Purdue University Northwest to give the Wildcats the most wins in a season in over a decade.
The 12th win of the season for NMU marks the most wins in a season since the 2006-07 team won 18 games. The nine Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference wins are also the most since 2006-07.
To lead the Wildcats, sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) scored 21 points to set a season-high. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) posted 18 while sophomore Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) also set a season-high with 17 points. Sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) chipped in with 12 points and a team best four assists and three steals.
Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) finished the night with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
PNW jumped out to a 6-4 lead, with Johnson and Carius scoring for the Wildcats. Senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) followed with a three to give NMU a 7-6 lead five minutes into the game. After a layup by the Pride, junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) scored and was followed by five-straight points from Taylor. The guests answered, but Matelski responded with his first three of the game to put NMU ahead 17-10.
The guests then scored twice before Carius and Matelski knocked in two threes. PNW again scored which was followed by a Carius jumper and three-point play by Johnson to move the NMU lead to 28-17 with less than five minutes to go until the half.
After the free throw, PNW sank a basket and Carius and Howard answered with a layup each. The Pride made a layup but Echols answered with his own three-point play. Echols and Johnson sandwiched a PNW three point, and a steal by Taylor led to a layup by freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather). A jumper by the Pride sent the game into halftime with NMU leading 41-26.
Johnson started the second half with a three-pointer, but PNW responded with six-points to make it 44-32. They continued to chip away and eventually made the score 54-44 with 11:43 to play. This would be as close as the Pride could get as Matelski hit back-to-back threes to put NMU ahead 60-44. Carius added two free throws before a three pointer by PNW made it 62-47.
The teams traded baskets until two free throws by Carius made it 71-54 with 4:37 to play. Echols, Carius and Taylor each made two free throws, and after seven points by the Pride, Carius made a layup to make it 79-62 with 1:58 remaining in the game. Carius made another layup, but PNW responded with five-straight points, making the score 81-69 with 1:06 remaining.
On the next NMU possession, Taylor and Olayinka got ahead of the NMU press, leading to a Olayinka dunk and free throw. Taylor then sank two free throws of his own. After a missed three-pointer by the Pride, Taylor found Carius on a lob which Carius dunked over a PNW defender.
Freshman Alec Fruin (Beloit, Wis./Turner) sank two free throws with 14 seconds remaining and gave NMU the 90-74 victory.
The Wildcats are now 12-8 on the season and 9-4 in the GLIAC while PNW fell to 1-20, 1-12 in conference play. NMU's next contest comes Saturday afternoon as they Grand Valley State University.