MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team saw four players in double figures, but it wasn't enough as the Wildcats fell to Lake Superior State University 80-68 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action.
Sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) led the team with 21 points, achieving 20 points for the third time in the past five games. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) posted 14 points and led the team in rebounding.
Defensively, sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) finished with four blocks.
Carius scored first, but the Lakers responded and took a 7-2 lead. NMU answered and eventually used a Johnson three-pointer to tie the game, then went ahead 13-11 with a Johnson tip-in. LSSU followed with five points to take back the lead, but NMU rallied back and tied the game again, 22-22 with a three-point play by Carius with 8:24 to go in the first half.
The guests answered and slowly built a 37-28 lead with less than five minutes to go in the half. Johnson narrowed the gap with a jumper, then Echols sank two free throws to make it 37-32. The Wildcats continued to chip away as Carius hit two layups to make it 37-36 with 2:31 left in the first. However, NMU was unable to score again, and an LSSU layup with a minute left in the half put the Lakers up 39-36 at the half.
To open the second half, LSSU slowly built up to a 57-45 lead at the 15-minute mark. Perez inched NMU closer with a three, but a basket by LSSU put the guests back up 11. After an NMU miss, Howard blocked a layup attempt, which Perez took advantage of on the offensive end to hit another three-pointer. On the next LSSU possession, Howard again blocked a layup attempt which Perez followed with a put-back layup to make the score 59-53 with 12:11 on the clock.
After a timeout, Howard got his third block on three-straight possession, and Carius hit two free throws to make it 59-54. After the Lakers finally succeeded on a layup, sophomore Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) knocked in a three-pointer to narrow the gap to just 61-58 with 10:12 left to play.
Perez then stole the ball on the next Laker possession which led to two made free throws by Echols to make it a one point game with 9:30 on the clock. After the teams traded baskets to make it 63-62 at the 8:56 mark, LSSU scored seven-straight points. Carius ended the run with a layup, but a three-pointer gave the guests back the momentum. NMU was unable to pull any closer in the final minutes, falling to the GLIAC's second ranked team 80-68.
The Wildcats fell to 14-10 on the season and are 12-5 in the GLIAC, while the Lakers improved to 19-6 overall, 13-4 in the league. NMU will look to bounce back Saturday as they host #3 Ferris State University in the Berry Events Center. Tickets for the game are available at the Marquette First Bank.