MARQUETTE, Mich. – With the spotlight on them, senior guard DeAndre Taylor and senior center Jared Benson did not disappoint, combining for 43 points to lead the Northern Michigan men's basketball team to a thrilling 76-74 win over Saginaw Valley State Saturday (Feb. 25) on Senior Day.
With the game knotted at 74-74 with 10 seconds left in regulation, NMU head coach Doug Lewis called a timeout to design one final play. Out of the timeout, Taylor found the ball in his hands. With time winding down, Taylor nailed a layup as time expired to snap NMU's nine game losing streak and send the senior's out with a bang.
NMU (9-17, 5-14 GLIAC) grabbed the early 10-3 lead to start the contest when Taylor drained one of his two treys at the 16:45 mark. SVSU (10-16, 6-13 GLIAC) rallied back to go on a 9-0 run to take a 12-10 lead. Benson then responded for NMU with a layup to tie the game before freshman guard Haki Stampley drained a three-pointer to give the 'Cats the lead back for good.
The 'Cats went into the break up 39-28 after the first 20 minutes of play.
NMU led the entire way for the final 20 minutes of play, fending off two late rallies by SVSU and matching each Cardinal basket. The 'Cats victory was aided at the charity stripe, as NMU went 14-for-16 from the free throw line in the second half.
The 'Cats were led by Taylor, who had a career-high 23 points and three rebounds. Benson netted 20 points and two blocks, while Stampley capped off his rookie season with 16 points and four boards.
NMU shot 48.1 percent (25-for-52) from the field and an outstanding 50 percent (8-for-16) from long range.
SVSU was led by Brett Beland with 29 points and four assists.
The 'Cats won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Cardinals 36-24.
Before the game, senior's Taylor and Benson were recognized with a ceremony at half court. Benson also received a commemorative basketball from coach Lewis in recognition of his 1,000 career points, which he reached on Thursday (Feb. 23) in a loss to Northwood.
Check back later next week for a season recap.