ASHLAND, Ohio (WLUC) – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team took on #10 Ashland University in a clash of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents but the upset bid fell short as the Eagles claimed a 67-60 victory.
Senior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) led all scorers with 30 points, including an 11-11 performance from the free throw line. He also grabbed four rebounds. Senior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn.) added 11 points and dished out three assists.
Redshirt freshman Troy Summers (Grayling, Mich.) chipped in with seven points and junior Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill.) posted six points and four rebounds.
THE FIRST HALF
Junior Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) answered an Eagle basket to give NMU an early 3-2 lead. Ashland scored again but Johnson made a layup. AU responded with a basket and the score was 6-5 at the 16:20 mark.
Echols gave the Wildcats the lead back with a layup before Ashland tied it at 7-7 with a free throw with 14:52 on the clock. Johnson and Summers moved NMU ahead 11-7 with back-to-back layups.
Junior Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill.) and Johnson extended the lead as the pair both made three-pointers to move the Wildcats ahead 17-7 with 11:42 to go in the first half. Ashland charged back and tied it at 17-17 with 5:30 on the clock.
Johnson stopped the rally with a layup, but Ashland made a three to reclaim the lead. They added two free throws but Johnson narrowed it with two free throws of his own. Echols sank two free throws with 51 seconds to go but Ashland scored six points over the final minutes to take a 29-23 lead into halftime.
THE SECOND HALF
Summers started the second half with a layup and Johnson added another layup before Echols made two free throws to tie the game 29-29 less than three minutes into the second half. Ashland hit a three but a layup and two free throws from Johnson put the Wildcat up 33-32 at the 15:45 mark.
Summers followed with a jumper and free throw and Howard added a layup to extend the lead to 38-32 with 14 minutes to go. Ashland made a free throw and a layup to inch closer before Echols made a jumper.
Ashland responded and pulled within 40-39 with 11:53 to play but Echols answered with a free throw. On the next Eagle possession, a layup tied the game at 41-41 but Johnson quickly answered with a layup and free to put NMU back on top.
After a media timeout, Johnson hit a jumper followed by a dunk from Howard. Johnson added two free throws a minute later to make it 50-44 with seven minutes to play. Ashland responded with four points before Johnson sank two more free throws. Ashland then converted a three-point play followed by a three-pointer but Johnson answered with a jumper to tie it at 54-54 with 3:27 to go.
The Eagles responded with a layup and Howard followed with two free throws. After an Ashland three Johnson made two free throws, but AU answered with a layup. Echols made the score 61-60 with a layup at the 1:30 mark but Ashland made a three and made free throws to close out the game and take a 67-60 victory.
NMU is now 8-5 on the season and 3-3 in the GLIAC while Ashland improved to 13-0 and 6-0 in the conference. The Wildcats are back in action Thursday as they return to the Berry Events Center to take on GLIAC foe Lake Superior State University.