Hot-shooting Wildcats sprint past Finlandia
Smith, Bjorklund combine for 12 three-pointers
MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team returned to action with a dominant 109-42 victory over Finlandia University on Sunday (Jan. 2).
STAT LEADERS Sophomore guard Carson Smith had the hot-hand from downtown, shooting 7-9 from beyond the arc. Smith led the way for the Wildcats with 25 points. He also tallied six assists.Senior Max Bjorklund also had a dominant performance. Bjorklund chipped in 21 points, including five triples and a highlight reel slam dunk. Bjorklund also recorded four assists and four boards.John Kerr recorded a double-double, adding 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Kerr also recorded four assists.Sam Schultz also had an all-around performance, leading the way on the glass with 13 rebounds. Schultz added 12 points for the double-double while also recording six assists and three steals.Ben Wolf recorded three blocks while Tre Harvey also tallied three steals.Northern shot 41-73 (56.2%) from the field and 14-29 (48.3%) from deep.Eleven Wildcats played and each got into the scoring column.
FIRST HALF On the game’s opening possession, John Kerr followed up his own miss and layed it in off the glass for the first tally of the contest. Max Bjorklund took to behind the long line a few possessions later to record the first triple of the game. The visiting Lions went scoreless for the first four minutes of action, missing their first five shots, but got their next two attempts to fall. That ended a 7-0 start for the ‘Cats. Max Bjorklund answered, continuing his hot start with another triple followed by an attack to the basket and a left-handed finish. Bjorklund’s eight points at the first media timeout led the Wildcats to a 12-4 lead.A 9-0 run from the ‘Cats would give them a 16-4 early lead. A pair of triples from Tre Harvey and Bjorklund in between a pair of Finlandia two-point baskets would lead to the Lions calling timeout, trailing 22-8 less than eight minutes in. That score would hold into the second media whistle. Carson Smith would get the hot-hand next as he rained in a pair of triples after a layup for a quick eight points. The ‘Cats opened up a 30-13 lead heading into the under eight minute media timeout. Ben Wolf would make his presence felt, as he chased down a Finlandia fast break and pinned the layup attempt against the glass for his second block. Wolf would run the court, cut to the hoop, and be rewarded with a lay in at the basket off a feed from Tre Harvey. A pair of two-point baskets from John Kerr would finish another 9-0 run by the Wildcats to open up a 36-13 lead.The ‘Cats 9-15 (60%) shooting clip from beyond the arc pushed them to a 53-18 lead at the half. NMU shot 20-39 (51.3%) while the Lions shot 8-33 (24.2%).Max Bjorlund and Carson Smith shared the hot hand in the first half, each shooting 4-5 from deep to lead the way at the break with 14 points apiece. John Kerr also reached double-digit scoring with 10 points.Sam Schultz and Kerr each pulled down five rebounds while Carson Smith (five assists) and Brian Parzych (four) led the way in the assist column. Northern totaled 15 helpers in the opening half.
SECOND HALF Finlandia would get the first scratch of the second half, as Danny Zuchak got a left-handed runner to go off the glass. Max Bjorklund would highlight his impressive outing with a right-handed fast break slam over a defender to cap off a 8-0 response from the ‘Cats. After Bjorklund hit another triple to reach 19 points, he would find open teammates on back-to-back possessions. The Wildcats led 70-24 at the first media timeout. Much like the first half, Bjorklund and Smith paced the way for the Wildcats in half two. A Bjorklund layup followed by a pair of triples from Smith gave them 21 and 20 points respectively at the second media whistle. A Jack Rusch bucket gave the Wildcats a 91-34 advantage at the third media timeout. A Tre Harvey and-one helped break the century mark for Northern, opening up a 60-point lead in the final minutes. The Wildcats held steady down the stretch, closing out the contest with sound offensive and defensive efforts. The ‘Cats continued to find open teammates much like they did in the first, recording 11 helpers in half number two.
UP NEXT NMU will return to GLIAC play next week with a pair of matchups at the Berry. Purdue Northwest will visit on Thursday, Jan. 6 with a 7:45 p.m. start.The three game homestand will wrap up on Saturday, Jan. 8 against Parkside with opening tip-off at 1:15 p.m.
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