MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan men's basketball team lost a nail-biter in double overtime to No. 21 Grand Valley State University, 82-79, Thursday evening at the Berry Events Center.
Dolapo Olayinka finished the game just one point shy of his career-best 24 points, tallying 23 on the night, including eight in the thrilling overtime periods. He also picked up seven rebounds in the contest to post the most for the Wildcats against GVSU.
The loss gives the men the season split with the Lakers, having previously defeated GVSU in a thriller in Allendale, Michigan last month.
| FIRST HALF
The WIldcats jumped out to an early lead over the Lakers when Justin Kuehl sent one home from beyond the arc for the 7-3 score less than five minutes in. The Lakers drew within one before fouling Ben Wolf who took advantage of the free shot for a 10-8 lead.
GVSU knotted things up at 10-all but a seven-point run by the Wildcats put them out in front nearly halfway through the first 20 minutes, 17-10. The Lakers answered with five points of their own to make it a one possession game.
With two minutes elapsed before the next basket, the Lakers tied things up with a jumper from just inside for a 17-17 score with seven minutes to play in the half.
At the 5:49 mark the Lakers regained broke out in front with a made three-pointer.
The two teams continued to battle in the opening half as the Wildcats trailed by just two points with one minute to go following a clean layup out front, for the 24-22 tally.
With 43.2 seconds in the half, Dolapo Olayinka put NMU back on top with a three-pointer from the far point to head to halftime up 25-24.
The Wildcats ended the half with six point scorers, including Olayinka with a team-lead 10. He also had six rebounds in the first half.
The program-leader in blocks, Howard boasted three in the first 20 minutes of action to improve his career total to 222 blocked shots.
| SECOND HALF
NMU had a few quick baskets to start the second half, including a made-three point jump shot from Matelski after Taylor stripped the Laker guard in their zone and ran it up the court. After his initial toss up missed the dunk target where he tipped it out of the paint and found Matelski outside the arc for the open shot.
The Wildcats saw their biggest lead of the game at the three minute mark when they went up 38-30 after Howard's dunk to electrify the crowd.
Following a blocked shot by Howard and the defensive rebound grabbed by Fruin, the Wildcats stormed down the court for Matelski's third three-pointer of the evening for their first double-digit lead of the night, 49-39. Noah Parcher added to that lead shortly after when he hit a layup for the 53-41 tally.
The Lakers cut back into the single digit NMU lead with a layup and-one but the Wildcats held strong and continued to put pressure on the Laker defense. Sam Taylor forced GVSU to call a timeout with 7:50 remaining after a made three-pointer gave NMU a 10-point lead, 56-46.
As the clock ticked under four minutes to play, the Lakers had cut the game to four points with the Wildcat men clinging to the 58-54 lead.
After GVSU came within a possession, Noah Parcher's jump shot trickled around the rim before dropping in for the 60-56 score but the Lakers answered and it was soon 60-58. Alec Fruin came right back for the Wildcats with a three-point shot for the five-point lead, 63-58, before NMU called a timeout. A pair of free throws for the Lakers brought them back within three with two minutes to go but the Wildcats kept up the offensive power and Fruin made his second-straight shot from deep for a 66-60 lead with 1:45 to go.
The Lakers went on a 5-0 run late in the game to draw within one point, 66-65.
A missed layup by the Wildcats led to a Laker jump ball with just 12.8 seconds to play as the home team continued to hold the one-point lead over GVSU.
A turnover off the toe of a Laker gave the Wildcats possession with 5.3 seconds to go but the inbound ball was stolen by GVSU and a foul was called on the Wildcats, sending the visitors to the line to shoot two with 0.2 seconds left in regulation.
The Lakers missed the first shot and revitalized the crowd at the Berry Events Center as they took to their feet with the Wildcats calling their final timeout. GVSU tied it up on their second shot as time expired to send the game to overtime.
After 40 minutes of play, Olayinka led the team in points with 15 as well as seven rebounds.
| EXTRA BASKETBALL
The Lakers took advantage early in the extra frame, going up 70-66 just one minute in.
NMU pulled within two points behind a pair of free throws from Sam Taylor and Myles Howard. Shortly after Howard's second attempted free throw, Taylor registered his third steal of the game but the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the possession and continued to trail by two.
The Wildcats came back within a point when Olayinka sunk a three-point shot with 1:20 to go in the extra period of play. NMU then stonewalled the Laker offense and regained possession for a shot at the lead but could not find the net and the Lakers got the ball back with 40 seconds to play, still up 72-71.
A made jumpshot put the Lakers up by three points and the Wildcats would get 14 seconds to try to answer and force a second overtime. Echoing that of the second half, the Wildcats tied things up with 2.1 seconds to play when Alec Fruin sent up a last chance effort as he was double-teamed beyond the arc and hit nothing but net.
A turnover by the Lakers as they sailed the ball the length of the court and out of play gave the Wildcats one more shot at the buzzer but we were sent to a second overtime to determine a victor, tied 74-74 through 65 minutes.
| EVEN MORE BASKETBALL
Similar to that of the first overtime, the Lakers went up by four early as the Wildcats found themselves trailing. Dolapo Olayinka found the first basket of the second overtime for NMU when he made a jumpshot in the paint.
After the Lakers missed a three-point jumper in their end and Myles Howard grabbed the defensive rebound. Olayinka continued his successful night with a three-point shot to give the Wildcats the 79-78 lead with 1:45 to play.
A pair of Laker free throws put the opposing team back up by one with 1:33 remaining in the second overtime period.
With 38.5 seconds remaining, the Wildcats got the ball back on a shot clock violation but a quick Laker steal found NMU down three points again late.
As 4.4 seconds hung on the scoreclock, NMU called a timeout as no shooting lane looked to be open. Alec Fruin sent up a shot from half court which hit the backboard but fell just outside the basket as the Wildcats fell to GVSU, 82-79, in double overtime.
| UP NEXT
The Wildcats will host their second-to-last regular season game this coming Saturday when they take on Davenport University. Following the men's 1 p.m. game, the team will honor its three seniors in Myles Howard, Marcus Matelski and Sam Taylor.