DETROIT — In a back-and-forth game featuring eight ties and 15 lead changes, the Northern Michigan men's basketball team held off Wayne State, 75-71, Saturday afternoon at the Matthaei Center.
Four Wildcat starters scored in the double digits, led by Naba Echols, who posted a season-best 25 points.
With 4:56 to play, Ronald Booth sank a three-point shot to give the Warriors a 62-59 advantage. Northern Michigan responded by stringing together a 9-0 run highlighted by a Marcus Matelski three-point shot and four Echols free throws to take a 68-62 edge at the 1:55 mark.
The Wildcats made five of their six free throws, and Echols drained a clutch jump shot after Wayne State narrowed the gap to three points with 24 seconds on the clock, to ice the game.
The Warriors led at halftime, 40-38. After Northern Michigan bolted out to an 11-5 lead in the first 15 minutes, Wayne State used an 8-2 run to even the score at 13 all by the 12:11 mark. After that, the teams traded baskets; neither could build a lead of more than six points the rest of the way.
The back-and-forth play continued into the second half. With six minutes left to play, the game was deadlocked at 59-59. Before that point, neither team could generate any meaningful separation; the largest lead either held was four points.
Jordan Perez (14) and Matelski (11) also scored in the double digits. Echols and Matelski each sank three shots from beyond the three-point arc. Johnson and Echols tied for the team lead with four assists.
Northern Michigan shot 46.3 percent from the floor, 47.6 from three and 78.9 from the free-throw line. The Wildcats' starters accounted for all but two of their points in the game.
Northern Michigan, now 5-9 (3-6 GLIAC), opens a season-long five-game home stand next week. The Wildcats take on Lake Superior State on Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. and Northwood on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m.