14 triples help NMU Men fly past Ashland

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MARQUETTE, Mi. The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team made a season-high 14 three-pointers and saw three in double figures, including a season high from senior Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill.), to open 2020 with a 74-61 victory over Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Ashland University Thursday night.

Taylor led the Wildcats with 18 points and also dished out a career high seven assists He added three steals as well. Senior Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) chipped in with 17 points, tying his career high of five three-pointers. Junior Alec Fruin (Beloit, Wis.) aided the effort with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Senior Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill.), sophomore Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Naseer Turner (Chicago, Ill.) notched seven points each. Howard added nine rebounds and two blocked shots while Olayinka posted three blocks. Freshman Noah Parcher (La Crosse, Wis.) chipped in with five points and five assists.

As a team, NMU finished 49% from the field and made 14 three-pointers. They also dished out 17 assists compared to Ashland's five.

Matelski, Fruin, and Olayinka opened the game with threes to give NMU a 9-7 lead four minutes into the game. Parcher then scored five points to move NMU up 14-10 before Howard sank a three. Taylor hit his first basket of the game, another NMU three, to make it 20-12 at the 12:45 mark. After an Ashland basket, Matelski made his second of the game and the seventh three for the Wildcats to give them a 23-14 advantage.

Howard hit a jumper and Matelski hit another triple to answer an Eagles run to make the score 28-19 with a little over seven minutes to play.

Taylor and Matelski both hit another three-pointer each, and Turner added a layup to close out the first half. Ashland was able to pull within four points with a 1:29 to play but the Wildcats took a 36-29 lead into the break.

The second half started with two Olayinka free throws but Ashland stormed back to make the score 38-37 four minutes into the half, but Fruin stopped the rally with five points and Taylor made a layup which moved the score to a 45-37 NMU lead.

Turner knocked in a three with 13:30 to play before the Eagles rallied to make it 48-45 when he and Taylor made layups.

With the score 52-45 and ten minutes remaining, Taylor answered two AU free throws with two layups, Fruin sank another three and Howard scored to give the Wildcats a 61-47 lead with just over six minutes to play. Olayinka dunked and Matelski hit his fifth three to follow an Ashland free throw to give NMU a 66-48 lead with less than four minutes remaining.

The Eagles got as close as 11 points but the Wildcats held on and made free throws down the stretch to open 2020 with a 74-61 victory to end a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles.

NMU improves to 5-7 on the season and 2-2 in the GLIAC while Ashland is now 7-5 and 0-4 in the league. The Wildcats return to action Saturday afternoon to host Wayne State University in the Berry Events Center for another GLIAC tilt.