BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team defeated Ferris State University 89-73 to advance to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2007.
| STAT LEADERS
Senior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) led the team with 29 points and snagged eight rebounds. Senior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn.) posted 21 points and dished out six assists. The duo combined to go 15-15 from the free throw line as well.
Sophomore Alec Fruin (Beloit, Wis.) added 10 points while junior Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill.) finished with nine points and ten rebounds. Redshirt freshman Troy Summers (Grayling, Mich.) chipped in with 13 points.
The Wildcats finished the game shooting 89% from the free throw line and outscored the Bulldogs 50-23 in the paint.
| THE BEGINNING
Fruin put NMU on the board, but Ferris State opened the game on an 8-2 lead. Johnson narrowed the gap with an and-one, followed by an Echols layup to pull within 8-7 four minutes in. The hosts added a free throw which Summers answered with a layup to tie the game at 9-9 at the 15:18 mark.
Junior Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill.) gave the Wildcats the lead, 11-9 with 14:42 on the clock. Johnson then hit a jumper, a layup and two free throws to give NMU a 17-9 lead. FSU responded with a three, but Howard replied with a dunk.
After another Bulldog three, Echols and Johnson made jumpers to give the Wildcats a 23-15 lead with nine minutes left in the half.
| FINISH WITH A RUN
After a media timeout, Taylor and Johnson followed baskets from FSU wth jumpers and moved the NMU lead to 27-20. The Bulldogs hit another three but Echols made a layup. FSU soon made it 29-28 then Johnson made a layup. Another Ferris State basket made it a one-point game again, but Echols sank two free throws and Johnson dunked it to make the lead 35-30 with 2:28 left in the half.
Echols closed the half with a jumper and two free throws while Johnson hit a jumper and NMU went into the break with a 41-30 lead. NMU closed out the half on a 10-0 run over the final three minutes of the first.
| EXTENDING THE LEAD
NMU carried over their rally into the second half as Howard continued the run with a layup then Johnson hit two free throws and Echols hit a jumper before FSU managed to score their first basket. In total, the Wildcats went on a 15-0 run that spanned nearly five minutes.
After an FSU score to stop the NMU rally, the Bulldogs scored again but Summers responded with a layup and Johnson made two more from the charity stripe. With the score 51-34, Ferris State hit a jumper but Echols answered by making three free throws after he was fouled on a three. Howard added another free throw to give the Wildcats a 55-36 lead with 14:20 to play.
The hosts managed a free throw but junior Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) replied with a jumper. FSU hit a jumper of their own but Fruin answered it with the only made three of the night for NMU to make the score 60-39. The Bulldogs followed with a layup and free throw before Johnson and Echols both scored to give the Wildcats a 64-42 lead with 11:17 to play.
Howard had another dunk after an FSU basket, and the hosts managed to make three free throws before Summers made a layup which brought the NMU lead to 68-47 with 10 minutes to play.
| FINISH IT OUT
After a timeout, Summers gave NMU five more points and their largest lead of the game, 73-47. The Bulldogs managed to cutinto the lead gradually but never got within 15 points as NMU cruised to the 89-73 win. The win also snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
| UP NEXT
The Wildcats improved to 17-11 on the season while Ferris State fell to 20-12 on the year. NMU will continue their season Saturday in the GLIAC Semifinals where they will take on #8 Davenport University, the GLIAC's top seed, at Davenport. The Wildcats defeated the Panthers 77-63 in the Berry Events Center but fell 74-71 at DU two weeks ago. With a win, NMU will then either face Grand Valley State University or University of Wisconsin-Parkside for the GLIAC Championship Sunday.