MARQUETTE, Mi. The Northern Michigan University men's basketball program fell in a heartbreaker to Purdue Northwest Saturday afternoon at the Berry Events Center. After senior Sam Taylor forced overtime with eight seconds remaining and Myles Howard blocked the Pride's last chance effort at the buzzer, the Wildcats fell 65-62 in the extra period. The game marked the team's first overtime play of the season.
The Wildcats jumped out to a quick six-point lead behind a pair of threes from Dolapo Olayinka and Alec Fruin less than a minute in. The team continued to extend its lead, eventually going up 13 points over the Pride before PNW fought back within five late in the half.
The two teams would trade a handful more baskets in the final three minutes of the first half as the Wildcats had the 36-28 edge heading into the break.
Shattering his previous career best of six points, Justin Kuehl led the team in the first half, putting up 14 points through the first 20 minutes, including his first career made three-pointer — one of four he had in the half.
Myles Howard continued his impressive career blocks total, adding two more to the school record in the first 20 minutes as he helped keep the Wildcats up eight points entering the second half. He also posted 10 rebounds, five offensive and five defensive in the half.
The two teams battled in the opening minutes of the second half as the Pride cut the Wildcats' lead to two with 8:29 to play. After a missed jump shot from Noah Parcher, PNW carried the ball down the court where they made a three-point jump shot to take the 49-48 lead.
With a free throw at 5:18, Alec Fruin tied things up before Dolapo Olayinka picked up the offensive rebound. Myles Howard was fouled shortly after to give the Wildcats the 50-49 lead.
The Pride then fired in a three to go back up by two as the clock hit under four minutes to play.
Justin Kuehl tied things back up with a pair of free throws with 3:34 left in regulation, with the score knotted at 52-52.
Down 58-56 with 16.7 seconds to go, PNW was called for a travel and the Wildcats got the ball back in their own offensive zone.
Sam Taylor tied things up once again at 58-all following the Wildcats' final timeout of regulation.
With two seconds on the clock, Myles Howard leapt in the air to smack down the Pride's last chance effort, blocking the shot to send the two teams to overtime.
Two minutes of play elapsed in the overtime period before either team was able to add to their regulation point total. The Pride broke the tie with a basket from the line to go up 60-58.
After Sam Taylor once again tied things up, the Pride scored three for the 63-60. lead. Taylor then brought the Wildcats within one with a made jump shot with a minute to play.
Trailing 65-62 with 11 seconds to go, Sam Taylor was unable to get his shot off as the Pride stripped the ball and were sent back to the line to shoot two. Missing both, the Wildcats regained possession with 2.2 seconds to go in the overtime period, down by three but were unable to find the equalizer and fell in a heartbreaker to PNW, 65-62.
CAREER HIGH NIGHT
Justin Kuehl, a freshman out of Iron Ridge, Wisconsin, sunk his first career three-pointer for the Wildcats in the first half against Purdue Northwest en route to his career high 16 point night.
He net 14 in the first half, breaking his previous best of six, also against Purdue Northwest.
The men travel across the peninsula next weekend with a stop at Lake Superior State University on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Following their trip to Salt Ste. Marie, the Wildcats will cross the bridge for a Saturday afternoon matchup at Ferris State University.