SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The NMU men’s basketball team (15-5, 7-3) struggled shooting, got into foul trouble in the second half, and despite a few opportunities late in the game to tie or take the lead, fell just short of the Lake Superior State Lakers (8-10, 7-3) by a 65-61 score on Thursday.

NMU’s cold shooting was seen at all levels, going 21-56 (37.5%) from the field, 6-20 (30%) from three, and 13-24 (54.2%) from the FT line. For the opposition, LSSU went 21-49 (42.9%), 4-13 (30.8%) from deep, and 19-27 (70.4%) at the charity stripe.

The Wildcats led 31-30 at halftime, but foul trouble disrupted the pace of play in the second half. Dylan Kuehl and Najashi Tolefree both fouled out, with Kuehl’s presence being taken off the floor with more than seven minutes left in the game.

All ten Wildcats scored in the contest, but no one scored over 11 points (Max Bjorklund). Jackson Dudek went 4-5 for 10 points while adding five rebounds and Max Weisbrod added 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists for solid outings from the NMU freshmen.

How it Happened
Kemon Bassett had it going early and often for the Lakers, helping them jump ahead 6-2 early on. The Wildcats starters struggled to get the ball through the basket and found themselves trailing 19-11 with just under eight minutes to go in the half.

Najashi Tolefree provided a spark off the bench with a quick five points and Jackson Dudek followed it with seven straight NMU points. The bench scored 16 straight points for Northern and kept them in the game. A Dylan Kuehl triple then gave NMU their first lead at 28-27 with 2:10 to go. NMU would hold for a slim 31-30 lead at the break.

The Lakers had 22 of their 30 first-half points come in the paint, led by Bassett with 10. NMU’s bench had 18 of the 31 first-half points, helping them get a lead at halftime in a half they trailed over 16 minutes.

In a physical and highly emotional contest, the second half saw the pace of the game come to a halt with fouls. After LSSU regained the lead and the sides exchanged buckets, NMU picked up four fouls in just over a minute with 15 minutes left. Two came from Dylan Kuehl, stretching his foul total to four and taking him out of the contest until late.

Each side had its fair share of fouls, with 30 fouls being called in the second half and each side hitting the bonus before 10 minutes eclipsed. This is where the Lakers created separation, as they were 19-27 (70.4%), with the Wildcats going 13-24 (54.2%). NMU was 5-15 at one point, finishing 8-9 at the line.

Dylan Kuehl re-entered the game with just over seven minutes left but soon picked up his 5th foul, taking one of the go-to Wildcat scorers out of the contest with much of the game left to play.

Despite foul trouble and poor shooting across the board, the Wildcats had several chances late within one possession in the winding minutes, but NMU went 1-10 from three in the second half and were never able to overcome the hump, falling 65-61.

Postgame Notes

  • NMU struggled shooting, going 21-56 (37.5%) from the floor, 6-20 (30%) from three, and 13-24 (54.2%) from the FT line. LSSU was 21-49 (42.9%) in the field, 4-13 (30.8%) from deep, and 19-27 (70.4%) at the charity stripe.
  • All ten Wildcats scored, with Max Bjorklund leading at 11 points.
  • Kemon Bassett was a force down low for the Lakers, scoring 25 points and drawing several fouls throughout the night, putting a wrinkle into NMU’s lineups.
  • Northern led on the glass, 38-27.

Up Next
The Wildcats will cross the Mighty Mac into Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with a matchup against the Ferris State Bulldogs looming on Saturday, January 28 at 3 p.m.