MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Northern Michigan men's basketball team fell to Hillsdale, 71-65, in a back-and-forth game that featured 11 ties and eight lead changes Saturday afternoon at the Berry Events Center.
With 3:57 remaining in regulation, Naba Echols was fouled by Nate Neveau and sank the second of his two free throws to give the Wildcats a 60-59 edge. But the Chargers used a 6-0 run to claim a 65-60 advantage by the 2:11 mark and never allowed Northern Michigan to draw even again.
In a first half with few whistles, the teams traded shots and baskets. After Hillsdale raced out to an 8-0 lead by the 17:01 mark, the Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run to draw within a single point with 14:43 to play.
By the 10:30 mark, the teams were locked in a 16-16 tie. From that point on, they found themselves in a tie five more times. After Hillsdale used a 9-0 run to turn a 28-25 deficit into a 34-28 lead, the Wildcats clawed back to tie the game at 36 going into the locker room. That 8-2 run was highlighted by a long Sam Taylor three-point shot and an Echols jump shot that just beat the buzzer.
The teams continued their back-and-forth play in the second half and found themselves even at 57-57 with 6:16 to play after Echols took a Myles Howard pass and buried a three-point shot from the corner. After Rhett Smith made a layup to put Hillsdale ahead, 59-57, Echols sank a jump shot and made a free throw to give Northern Michigan its last advantage of the game.
Echols led the Wildcats with 21 points while Jordan Perez (18) and Isaiah Johnson (11) came off the bench to score in the double digits. Brett Branstrom tied Neveau for the game high with seven rebounds while Echols led all players in assists (4) and steals (3).
Northern Michigan shot 42.1 percent from the floor, 43.5 from three and 87.5 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats return to action during January's first weekend, taking on Tiffin (Jan. 5, 8 p.m.) and Ashland (Jan. 7, 3 p.m.) on the road.