HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - With a game-winner at the buzzer, the Northern Michigan University men's basketball team held on to defeat long-time rival Michigan Tech, 64-61, in Houghton, Michigan Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats and Huskies were pretty evenly matched throughout the contest with five members of the NMU team recording double-digit points in the victory Sunday, including senior Marcus Matelski who hit the game-winning three-pointer as time expired to lift the Wildcats over their rival. Matelski and Dolapo Olayinka both tallied 11 points in the game for the team lead, while Troy Summers, Alec Fruin and Sam Taylor had 10 each.
NMU jumped out to an early lead, 17-4, following a 12-0 run by the Wildcats less than 10 minutes into the game. The two teams entered the half with NMU up 31-19.
The Huskies would take their first lead of the game with 8:07 remaining off a series of free throws making it 53-52. Their lead wouldn't last long as the Wildcats regained the edge with a jump shot made by Fruin. The two teams would trade lead changes a handful more times before the Wildcats came out on top when Matelski sunk the game-winning three as time expired.
The Wildcats led for all but 2:25 minutes in the game, allowing Michigan Tech's largest lead of the day to be two points.
The team also led in rebounds grabbed, snagging 38 out of the air to the Huskies' 29.
The Wildcats have now won three straight over the Huskies, dating back to January 26, 2019.
Heading into the half, the Wildcats held a solid lead, 31-19 with Olayinka leading the way in points with six. He also contributed four rebounds, a steal and an assist early on to boost the team to the 12-point lead through the first 20 minutes of play.
The Wildcats picked up 21 rebounds in the half, including 19 on the defensive end while shooting over 40 percent in all areas of play. From the line they shot 66.7 percent in the opening half while hitting 41.7 percent of their three-pointers and 42.9 percent of all field goals.
Five individuals sunk threes in the first half to boost the Wildcats over the Huskies for the early lead.
Troy Summers led all scorers in the second half, adding eight points to the board while shooting 60 percent and a perfect 2-for-2 from the line.
Senior Taylor led the team in rebounds in the second half with four, including three defensively. He also picked up an addition five points through the final 20 minutes to finish the day with 10 total along with three assists.
The Wildcats finished the day shooting 87.5 percent from the free throw line while going 45.3 percent in the field.
The Wildcats found themselves trailing for the first time at 8:07 remaining before Fruin's jumpsuit put them back up by one.
A pair of free throws by Tech put them ahead once more, 55-54 before Summers' layup reinstated the Wildcats lead with 5:50 to play.
The Wildcats would trail just once more when MTU's Tommy Lucca sank a jump shot for two at 1:49 but Myles Howard would tie things up just 25 seconds later with a jumper of his own, knotting the game at 61-61.
Matelski proved to be the Wildcats' savior as he rang out a three-point shot as time ran out for the game-winning basket. Olayinka picked up an assist on the play to give the Wildcats the 64-61 final.
The Wildcats will host Hillsdale College this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. before an afternoon game on Saturday against Ripon (December 21 at 1 p.m.) to close out the 2019 calendar year.