Northern Michigan battles but falls against Grand Valley State

The game saw 21 lead changes of the 40 minutes of basketball
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 7:57 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - In a game that saw 21 lead changes and over half the game being played within a possession, the Wildcats fell short by a 81-75 score at Grand Valley State on Saturday. The game was tied 71-71 with 3:29 to play, but a 6-0 run from GV took the wind out of the Wildcat sails. Max Bjorklund led NMU with 23 points, while Marius Grazulis was a force down low for the Lakers all game long, scoring 24. With the loss, NMU drops to 18-7 overall and 10-5 in GLIAC play, facing an uphill battle and needing outside help for a GLIAC regular season title. The Lakers moved to 15-9 and 9-5 withing the GLIAC.

The Wildcats defense looked sound early, not giving way for a GV score until over three minutes in. The Wildcats led 8-2 early, but the sides continued to exchange blows from there. The Lakers took their first lead at 17-16 with 11:22 to go in the first half. Sam Schultz provided a lift off the bench for NMU totaling nine points in the first half.

The offenses heated up with the opening 20 minutes winding down, with the lead changing hands 14 times in the first half. NMU would hold a slim 45-41 edge at the break, with D. Kuehl, Schlutz, and Bjorklund combining for 28 points. The Lakers started the second half on a 7-0 run, going ahead 48-41. After their first basket at 19:43 closed it to a one score game, the game didn’t see a two-score advantage again until 5:03 to go, when GV went up four.

The ‘Cats battled, with two threes within a minute of each other closing the gap when it looked like the Lakers may pull away. After Bjorklund’s triple tied it at 71 with 3:29 to go, the Lakers put together the game’s most important run, a 6-0 run over three minutes, to hold a multiple-possession lead with less than a minute left.

The Lakers hit free throws down the stretch to put the game away and secure the 81-75 victory.

The Wildcats will be home for the final time in the regular season, with Parkside and Purdue Northwest visiting the Berry. It will start against Parkside on Thursday, February 16 at 5:30 p.m.