Big NMU second half powers way to win at Purdue Northwest

 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 12:30 AM EST
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HAMMOND, Ind. (WLUC) - After a slow start in the first half, the NMU men’s basketball team outscored the Purdue Northwest Pride 55-37 in the second half en route to an 85-77 win on Friday to open GLIAC competition. The Wildcats were 6-10 from the three and made 19 free throws in the second to help turn around the evening after a slow start in the first 20 minutes of action. NMU’s leading scorer was once again Max Bjorklund, who poured in 20 points. Dylan Kuehl tallied 17 of his own, shooting 9-10 at the FT line and pulling down 8 rebounds. Diego Robinson cleaned up 4 offensive rebounds on the evening to lead NMUs edge 11-1 in the category, while also helping NMU dominate in second-chance points, 24-2. Northern Michigan (6-2, 1-0 GLIAC) shot 28-61 (45.9%) from the field, while Purdue Northwest (5-3, 0-1 GLIAC) was 27-50 (54.0%).

How it Happened The hometown Pride started off the game by scoring the first six. The Wildcats were unsuccessful on their first seven attempts, but a Diego Robinson offensive putback finally got NMU into the scoring column nearly five minutes in. Coming off the bench, Justin Kuehl hit his first two attempts, one from downtown, to help the Wildcats put together a 9-0 run to go up five, leading to a PNW timeout. That lead was shortlived for NMU, as the Pride responded with a lengthy 17-0 tear, holding NMU scoreless for nearly five minutes to go up a dozen. Both Alou Dillon and Mikell Cooper hit multiple shots on the run to get into double figures for the home squad. The NMU bench was responsible for the first 19 points, with the first starter to score coming with only five minutes left on the clock, as Max Bjorklund converted on a pair of free throws as part of seven points he would score to finish out the half. The highlight play of the opening half came from Dylan Kuehl, who received a give-and-go from Bjorklund and finished a one-handed slam over a defender to bring life into the Wildcats late in the half. The Green and Gold were able to weather cold 3-point shooting (2-13) and long PNW runs to keep the deficit within striking distance at the intermission, trailing 40-30. Diego Robinson had 8 points to pace the ‘Cats.

The halftime break proved effective for the ‘Cats, as they quickly put together an 11-0 run with three triples to pull within a point just a few minutes into the half. It wouldn’t be long for the Wildcats to get the lead back, as Carson Smith’s third triple of the half vaulted the ‘Cats in front 50-49 with 14:41 to play. Bjorklund kept the hot half going for the Green and Gold, connecting on a pair of triples of his own midway through the half to push his game total to 20 points. He would end up fouling out in the closing minutes of the half before being able to reach his season average of 25.1 PPG. Before that would happen, he found Dylan Kuehl down low with four minutes and change to play to give NMU their largest lead of the night at 71-60. NMU scored 37 of their 55 second-half points from the free-throw stripe and three-point line. Dylan Kuehl (9-10 FT) and Brian Parzych (4-4 FT) each did what they needed to do at the charity stripe in the winding minutes as they helped the ‘Cats close out an 85-77 victory.

Postgame Notes

  • Max Bjorklund led the Wildcats with 20 points, shooting 7-13 from the field and 4-7 from deep.
  • Dylan Kuehl chipped in 17 points, knocking in 9-10 free throws. He would add 8 rebounds to lead the ‘Cats on the glass.
  • Diego Robinson cleaned up 4 offensive rebounds to give NMU a sizeable 11-1 edge in the category. The Wildcats also dominated second-chance points 24-2.
  • In total, Northern shot 28-61 (45.9%) from the field, while Purdue Northwest (5-3, 0-1 GLIAC) was 27-50 (54.0%).
  • The Pride’s Mikell Cooper (26 points) and Alou Dillon (22 points) were the leading scorers in the game.

Up Next Northern Michigan will visit the Parkside Rangers on Saturday, December 3 with a GLIAC matchup at 6 p.m.