MIDLAND, Mich. -- Northern Michigan University's Men's Basketball team used a 15-4 run in the second half to come back and defeat Northwood University 80-72 for their third straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win. The win also moved the Wildcats into a tie for second place in the league.
Senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) and sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) led the team with 22 points each. The 22 points are a season high for Perez while he also led the team with eight rebounds. Carious achieved 20 points for the second time in the past three games.
Sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) chipped in with 13 points.
Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) gave NMU a quick lead to start the game, but NU went on a 10-0 run to take a 10-2 lead three minutes into the game. Echols ended the NU run with a three-pointer, and Carius sank two free throws to move the Wildcats closer, 10-7, at the first media timeout.
After the timeout, Perez made a layup to get NMU within one, but the hosts hit a three, which junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Mich.) answered quickly. The teams traded points until the next media timeout with the Timberwolves holding an 18-16 lead. Taylor eventually tied the game at 20-20, then sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) hit two free throws to give NMU a 22-20 lead with 7:22 left to play in the first half.
The hosts tied the game at 24-24 then scored eight-straight points to take a 32-24 lead until Carius made back-to-back layups to move it to 32-28 with 3:06 left. NU responded with five points before Perez sank a three to make it 37-31 at the break.
To start the second half, Carius and Johnson helped get NMU to within three, but the Timberwolves pulled ahead 48-38 with 15:37 on the clock. Perez stopped the run with a three-pointer, then Taylor made a layup followed by a three from sophomore Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) to make it 48-46 as the teams hit the first media timeout of the half.
The hosts made two free throws out of the break, but Perez answered with a layup then stole the ball and went all the way for another layup to tie the game at 50-50 at the 11 minute mark. After an NU basket, Matelski hit another three to give NMU their first lead of the second half which Taylor extended to 55-52 with a layup. The Timberwolves answered with a basket, but Carius and Taylor responded with layups and a Perez jumper put NMU ahead 59-53 with 8:31 left to play.
Carius extended the lead with a layup, then Johnson answered an NU basket with a jumper to make the NMU lead 65-56. The Timberwolves sank two free throws but Perez answered with a three-pointer to make it 68-58 with just over five minutes left in the game.
Out of the final media timeout, the hosts made a free throw, but a three-point play from Carius made it 71-61 with 3:20 to go. Carius eventually put NMU ahead 75-63 with 57 seconds left and NMU sank free throws in the final minute to prevent NU from getting any closer than eight points, giving the Wildcats an 80-72 win.
NMU has scored at least 80 points in each of the past three games, and have reached 80 in five of the past six games.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 14-8 on the season and 11-4 in the GLIAC while Northwood fell to 9-14, 5-10 in the league. NMU will now head to Saginaw Valley State University Saturday afternoon seeking another GLIAC victory.