MARQUETTE, Mi. The Northern Michigan University men's basketball team picked up the series split with the Parkside Rangers with a 55-43 victory over the Rangers on Thursday evening.
Behind a school record and double-double performance by Myles Taylor and 17 points from Alec Fruin, a strong defensive second half from the Wildcats proved the game changer at the Berry Events Center in the win.
With 13 points in the opening 20 minutes, Myles Howard led the team in points with 13, including five-for-five from the line.
After falling down early, giving the Rangers a 19-12 lead with six minutes to go, a layup from Howard sparked the comeback push the team needed to head to the locker rooms up 31-26.
Their 17-5 run started with just 4:21 remaining in the half when Howard picked up the defensive rebound and dribbled it down the court as the crowd erupted for the dunk. Sam Taylor's fast break with two minutes to go would bring the Wildcats within one before Howard, Marcus Matelski extended the lead late.
After a missed three-point shot on a second chance effort for the Rangers, the Wildcats ran the ball down the court where Taylor fired the ball to Dolapo Olayinka for the buzzer-beater with seconds remaining.
Jutst under 10 minutes left in regulation, the Rangers tied it up at 37-all before Alec Fruin made the layup from out front to put the Wildcats back on top, 39-37. Shortly after, he hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a five point lead half way through the second half.
Allowing just one free throw in over eight minutes of action, NMU jumped out to a 53-38 lead with 2:15 to go.
As time wound down in the half, Myles Howard blocked his second shot of the latter half and third of the game for his NMU school record 213th career block.
A late push from the Rangers was stifled by the Wildcat defense as they ran off with a 55-43 victory over Parkside.
After hitting 1,000 career points last Saturday at Northwood, Sam Taylor now boasts 1,010 points with the Wildcats following an eight point night against Parkside.
Myles Howard tied the school record with his second block of the night part way through the second half. He later posted his third blocked shot of the night to take sole possession of the NMU school blocks record. In four years with the Green and Gold, he now holds 213 career blocked shots.
The men are back at the Berry Events Center on Saturday, February 8 at 1 p.m. for a matchup with Purdue Northwest.