GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) scored his 1,000th point and was among five players to reach double-figures to help guide the Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory with a season-best 91 points to defeat Davenport University 91-80 Monday afternoon.
Leading the team in scoring was junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), who finished with 21 points, including four three-pointers. He also led the team with six rebounds. Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) posted 18 points and tied Johnson with a team-best four assists.
DU hit a three-pointer for the first score of the game, but sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) made a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound. Carius then hit two free throws to put NMU ahead 4-3.
The hosts answered with a 6-0 run to take a 9-4 lead until Johnson hit a three-pointer. Perez followed it with his own three to answer a bucket by the Panthers and narrowed the gap to just 11-10. Matelski knocked in the third-straight NMU three-pointer to put NMU back on top, 13-11 with 14:24 to go in the half.
After the media timeout, Johnson scored four-straight points to move the Wildcats ahead 17-11. DU responded with a three-point play, but Perez hit his second three of the day. Freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather) improved the NMU lead to 22-14, which the hosts answered quickly and soon made the score 22-18 with 8:21 to go.
The teams traded scores, with DU making it 25-21, but back-to-back three pointers by Johnson, with a Panther basket in between made it 31-23. After Johnson blocked a shot on the defensive end, Echols extended the NMU lead by sinking three free throws, making it 34-23 with 5:01 left in the opening half.
Over the next three minutes, DU cut into the lead and made it 36-33 with 1:30 left in the half. At this point, Echols made two more free throws, and then made a layup with 31 seconds to send the game into the break with the Wildcats ahead 40-33.
The hosts chipped away at the NMU lead to start the second half, making it 42-41 less than three minutes into the half. Johnson then hit two free throws, followed by a sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton) three-pointer to make it 47-41 at the 17-minute mark.
DU responded and got back to within three, 49-46, but Perez scored two baskets to push the NMU advantage back to 53-46. The Panthers again rallied and made it 55-53, but two more threes by Matelski answered baskets by DU to make it 61-55 with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Olayinka dunked, and was followed by another Perez three-pointer to get back on top 66-55. The team's traded baskets for the next several minutes, with Davenport getting within six, 74-68, with 5:09 to play. At this point, Matelski made a free throw, followed by a Taylor jumper. After two free throws by DU, Echols sank a three to make it 80-70 at the 2:42 mark.
After four points by the hosts, Johnson sank the team's 12th three-pointer of the day with 1:50 left in the game and put NMU ahead 83-74. Echols and Taylor closed out the game, combining to go 8 of 11 from the free throw line to give NMU the 91-80 victory.
The Wildcats made a total of 33 shots from the charity stripe, their best performance from the free throw line this season.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 11-7 on the season, 8-3 in the GLIAC while Davenport falls to 9-9, 3-7 in the conference. NMU will now return to action on Sunday as they visit rival Michigan Technological University seeking a repeat of their victory earlier this season.