Bjorklund’s 34 helps NMU edge Concordia St. Paul in overtime
Parzych, Smith comntribute 33 points combined
MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Playing on the second leg of a back-to-back, the NMU Wildcats men’s basketball team went to overtime with the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears, coming out on top 90-86.Max Bjorklund once again led the charge for the Wildcats, pouring in 34 points, his third time with 30+ this season. His season average sits at 27.8. Bjorklund shot 13-22 (59.1%) from the floor with several big baskets down the stretch. He went blow for blow with the Bears’ Antwan Simmons, who led the way with 35 points.Brian Parzych added 19 while Carson Smith chipped in 14 for the ‘Cats.NMU is now 4-0 on the young season with a trip downstate to Hillsdale on the schedule for Sunday.
First Half A smooth spin move by Carson Smith opened up a driving lane and he finished off the opening possession with a Wildcat score. Max Bjorklund finished off an and-one a couple of trips down the hardwood later to push NMU ahead 5-0 in the early going. The Bears grabbed their first lead after a pair of connections from deep, but a Carson Smith corner three erased the deficit. The game was knotted at 12 apiece with 14:46 to go in the half. Antwan Kimmons had the hot hand early for CSP, converting on 4-5 shots for nine early points. Despite the success, threes from Najashi Tolefree and Justin Kuehl kept the Wildcats ahead with a slim 18-16 lead nearing the halfway point of the frame. Concordia’s John Grigsby turned into a force for the Bears, scoring eight straight to jump ahead 24-21 with 7:23 to go.Brian Parzych and Max Weisbrod splashed home another two triples for the Wildcats approaching the final media timeout, but the intensity was in full effect on each side of the floor with each squad exchanging blows. NMU was up 31-29 with 3:55 to go. Parzych then finished off a clean spin move under the basket to make it six straight for the ‘Cats as they built out their largest lead at 37-30 with 1:52 to go, leading to a Bears timeout to regroup. Each side had a bucket to close and NMU took a 39-33 edge into the locker room. NMU was led by Carson Smith with eight points. The Wildcats shot 15-33 (45.5%) in the half while the Bears shot 13-30 (43.3%).
Second Half The Bears started the half out clicking, connecting on their first four shots including two from deep to tie it up 44-44. After the offenses fell flat for a prolonged stretch, Smith took a steal in for a fastbreak layup and Parzych followed his corner shot, grabbed the rebound, and finished off a tough and-one to gain a 53-48 lead with 11 minutes to go. Bjorklund then hit three straight contested shots, with a few CSP baskets sandwiched in between. NMU continued to hold a slim 61-58 lead with 7:11 remaining. After a timeout, the Wildcats’ leading scorer kept his surge going with a quick drive to the hoop and a deep three. He had 11 straight for the ‘Cats who kept a 66-61 lead with 5:39 to go.The Golden Bears went on a run of their own as they locked down defensively. They regained the lead 70-68 with 2:19 to go. After another basket on each side, the deficit for the ‘Cats was 72-70 with 1:34 on the clock. A set of free throws from Bjorklund made it 72 all with 60 seconds to go.Concordia buried a pull-up jumper on their trip down the floor. For the ‘Cats, Bjorklund connected on a contested jumper. The Bears shot to win it in the final seconds fell short and the sides were bound for OT at 74 each. Bjorklund led NMU with 25 through regulation.
Overtime Bjorklund got the first five of the extra stanza to get to 30 for NMU, but the Bears had the answer each time as Antwan Kimmons had a collection of 30 for the opposition. The game was tied 81-81 with one minute to play.Bjorklund got a driving lay-in to go, but Kimmons again got it back for the Bears, getting an and-one for an 84-83 lead with 35 seconds to go. Coming back the other way, Dylan Kuehl face contact, but held strong getting the hoop to fall with a trip to the line. After converting, NMU was up 86-84 with 21 seconds on the clock.A Concordia three rattled out, and Parzych cleaned the glass and was fouled with 7.7 seconds. Parzych hit both to go up by four. A quick Bears basket was followed by a Bjorklund trip to the stripe. With ice in his veins, he put the game away with 3.6 seconds to go, as NMU went up 90-86, which would hold for a final.
- Max Bjorklund hit 30+ for the third time in four games, dropping 34 points on 13-22 shooting (59.1%). His season average now sits at 27.8 ppg. He added five rebounds to boot.
- Brian Parzych added 19 points with 5 assists while Carson Smith chipped in 14.
- Antwan Kimmons led all scorers with 35 points on 14-25 shooting.
- NMU shot 32-66 (48.5%) from the floor. Concordia was 32-62 (51.6%). From deep, the Wildcats went 7-26 while the Bears were 10-23.
Up Next The Wildcats will head downstate, as they finish off a busy weekend with a Sunday matchup at Hillsdale. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.
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