UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. — The Northern Michigan men's basketball team overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to knock off No. 18 Saginaw Valley State, 82-76, Thursday night at O'Neill Arena.
With 9:09 remaining in regulation, a Wade Gelhaus layup gave the Cardinals their largest lead of the game, a 62-49 advantage. The Wildcats battled back, and a Marcus Matelski three-point shot capped their 20-7 run that tied the game at 69-69 with 3:19 left to play.
While a Mike Wells layup quickly put Saginaw Valley State back on top, Northern Michigan responded with an 8-0 run to build a 77-71 edge by the 31-second mark. The Wildcats then iced the game by sinking five of their final six free throws.
Career nights for Jordan Perez and Isaiah Johnson propelled Northern Michigan past the Cardinals, who were ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation this season. Perez posted his first career double double with 24 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while Johnson recorded a career-best 28 points.
At halftime, Saginaw Valley State held a 46-38 lead. During the first 10 minutes of the half, the teams traded baskets and were tied five times, including at 24 all with 11:11 on the clock. An Ian Hodges three-point shot gave the Wildcats a 27-24 edge at the 9:24 mark, but the Cardinals answered with an 8-0 run to take a 32-27 advantage by the 7:19 mark.
With 5:01 left to play, Perez drained a three-point shot to even the score at 32. After a timeout, Jake Daniels sank a three-point shot to regain the lead for his team and jump start a 14-6 run.
The Cardinals carried the momentum from that run into the second half, building their 62-49 advantage.
Matelski was the only other Wildcat to score in the double digits, hitting four of his seven three-point shots to contribute 12 points. Perez finished with three more boards than his previous career-best total recorded on Dec. 10, 2015 at Wayne State.
As a team, Northern Michigan shot 46.9 percent from the floor, 42.3 from beyond the three-point arc and 73.3 from the charity stripe.
With their win, which snapped a four-game losing streak, the Wildcats improved to 4-9 (2-6 GLIAC). They return to action on Saturday when they face Wayne State at 3 p.m. That game will be televised live on Comcast/CN 90 throughout Michigan.