MARQUETTE, Mich. — Naba Echols and Jordan Perez each scored 22 points, and Isaiah Johnson posted a double double, but the Northern Michigan men's basketball team was edged by Lake Superior State, 90-80, Thursday night at the Berry Events Center.
In a game featuring three ties and nine lead changes, the Lakers overcame the Wildcats by quickly erasing their 48-37 halftime advantage. By the 15:36 mark, they had pulled within a single point, at 51-50, after a Michael Nicholson dunk.
From that point on, the teams traded baskets, and neither could widen the gap to more than six points. With 6:40 remaining in regulation, the Lakers took their first lead since the first half, a 65-64 edge on a Tim Cairnduff layup. They then stretched their lead to 70-66 after Nicholson made a layup, drew a foul and drained his free throw and Blake Marquardt sank a layup.
Lake Superior State, currently second in the GLIAC North standings, closed out the game by making eight free throws.
With 11:44 to go in the first half, a Marcus Matelski three turned a 15-14 deficit into a 17-15 advantage. After Michael Smuthy answered with a three, Matelski drained another three-point shot to put Northern Michigan up, 20-17. That three kicked off a 19-7 run that resulted in the Wildcats' largest lead of the game, a 39-26 advantage with 5:02 left in the half.
Johnson had a double double with 17 points and a career-best 11 rebounds. Matelski also reached the double digits in points with 12. Echols dished out six assists while Myles Howard blocked two shots.
Akaemji Williams (26) and Nicholson (24) each surpassed the 20-point plateau for Lake Superior State.
Northern Michigan shot 38.8 percent from the floor, 28.9 from three and 85.0 from the free-throw line. The Wildcats sank only four three-point shots in the second half, compared to seven in the first.
With the loss, Northern Michigan falls to 5-10 (3-7 GLIAC). The Wildcats next host Northwood on Saturday at 1 p.m.