MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Five players scored in double-figures as the Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team used a 53-point second half to defeat Grand Valley State University 85-75 Saturday afternoon. The win is the second win over the Lakers this season for NMU and third victory in a row over GVSU.
Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) paced the team with 20 points and five assists. Sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) added 18 points and tied junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) for the team's lead in steals with three.
Offensively, Johnson scored 16 points. Sophomores Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) and Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) each scored 11 points. Taylor also led the team with six rebounds and finished with two steals.
Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) added two blocks to the team's defensive effort.
The guests scored first and eventually ran out to an 17-6 lead at the 13:20 mark. Echols then knocked in a free throw, followed by a three-pointer by senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) and jumper by Taylor to make it 17-12 with 11 minutes left in the opening half.
After two threes by the Lakers to make it 23-12, Taylor made a layup followed by a successful three-point play from Johnson. The guests responded with two free throws, but Carius hit back-to-back threes to pull NMU within 25-23 with 6:54 left in the half. GVSU answered with a nine-point run to lead 34-23 with 3:14 on the clock. The teams traded baskets in the final three minutes before the Lakers took a 40-32 advantage into the break.
GVSU opened the second half with a score to go up 42-32, but Echols made a layup to answer. Carius then hit a layup, followed a Taylor jumper to make it 42-38 just two minutes into the final half. The Lakers made a layup and Carius answered with two free throws. Echols soon hit a three to follow a GVSU score, but two free throws from the Lakers made it 48-43 at the 13:48 mark.
Matelski responded with a three, and Perez tied the game, 48-48, with a layup with 13:06 to play. The Lakers and Taylor traded baskets to tie it again, but Carius hit from behind the arc once again to give NMU their first lead of the game. Johnson then stole the ball and went in for a layup on the next Laker possession followed by a Taylor steal and three-pointer by Matelski. Another GVSU turnover led to a three pointer by Echols and NMU was ahead 61-50, scoring 11 points in just 73 seconds.
The Lakers ended the NMU run with a basket, but after a timeout, Echols came out and banked in a three, this time while sitting on the floor after falling to the ground, to move NMU ahead 64-53. He then added a free throw after a technical foul by GVSU.
After two free throws by the visitors, Perez hit a jumper and was followed by two free throws by Matelski to move NMU ahead 69-57 with 6:22 remaining. The Lakers answered and cut the lead to eight points, 70-62 with 4:35 to play. The teams continued to trade baskets down the stretch, and GVSU pulled within 80-74 with 43 seconds left. Carius and Johnson closed out the game with five free throws between them as the Wildcats claimed the 85-75 victory over GVSU.
With the win, NMU improved to 13-8 on the year and 10-4 in the GLIAC while the Lakers fell to 11-11 overall, 6-8 in league play. The Wildcats return to action Thursday night as they visit Northwood University to continue GLIAC play.