MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team makes a return to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament as they visit Ashland University Wednesday night.
The Wildcats enter the GLIAC Quarterfinals as the fifth seed and will visit the fourth-seeded Eagles. The winner will take on top-seeded, and #3 in the country, Ferris State University Saturday afternoon.
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Last week's action: NMU outscored Davenport 44-31 in the second half, fueled by a 12-1 run, to defeat the Panthers 77-73 in Thursday's game. Four players achieved double figures for the Wildcats. In Saturday's game, three players reached double-digits but NMU was unable to get past Wayne State, falling 71-70 on Senior Day.
Naba gets 25: Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) led the Wildcats with 25.5 points per game last week. Against the Panthers he went for 26 points, hitting four three-pointers and sinking six of eight from the free throw line. On Saturday, he posted 25 points and also dished out five assists. He is second on the team with 17.0 points per game this season.
Carius' hot February: Sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) has led the Wildcats in scoring throughout the month of February. Carius has reached atleast 20 points in four of the past eight games and is leading the team with 18.4 points per game this month. He is shooting a team-best 54% from the field and is second on the team with 40% shooting from the three-point line.
GLIAC's top scorers: Echols and junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) are ranked in the top five of the GLIAC's scoring leaders. Johnson is fourth and is averaging 17.6 points per game. Echols is fifth with his 17.0 points a game. Johnson has scored double figures in all but three games this season, including a career-high 30 points at Wayne State. Echols has scored atleast 25 points in the the past three games, notching a season-high of 30 against Ferris State.
Howard's block party: Sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) is second in the conference with a total of 49 blocks on the season, averaging 1.9 blocks per game. He is also ranked 33rd in the country for his block totals. Howard posted a season-high five blocks against College of St. Rose earlier this season.
Return to the playoffs: This is the first appearance in the GLIAC Tournament since the 2006-07 season. The Wildcats had previously made five straight appearances in the GLIAC tournament and holds an 8-10 record all time in the GLIAC Tournament. NMU defeated Michigan Technological University 77-54 in the quarterfinals but fell to Grand Valley State University, 89-87 in the semifinals in their last postseason appearance. NMU last won the GLIAC Tournament in 2000, with a 73-70 victory over Michigan Tech.
NMU versus Ashland: Wednesday will be the first-ever postseason matchup with the Eagles. Earlier this season, Ashland got the best of NMU, winning 55-54 in a game Echols did not play. Overall, Ashland holds a 9-16 record over the Wildcats, with NMU last getting victory in the 2012-13 season with a 73-66 win. The last time the Wildcats won at Ashland came in 2008-09, defeating the Eagles 75-67.