ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team’s late rally comes up just short at Grand Valley State University as they fall in overtime to the Lakers, 81-75.
After trailing by 17, the Wildcats managed to take the lead late but the Lakers forced the overtime frame with 10 seconds left and came out victorious on day one of the two-day Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference series.
The two teams kept it close for much of the first half with six lead changes before GVSU opened up the lead with a 19-2 run as the Wildcats found themselves quickly trailing, 38-21 with 3:12 to play in the opening 20 minutes.
The Wildcats were able to cut the deficit to eight points before a last second shot and ensuing foul for the Lakers went in to make it a 43-32 game at the half.
With less than four minutes to play, the Wildcats called a timeout and a 6-0 point run ensued, cutting the score to one possession, 64-61.
After the Lakers pulled out a quick jump shot to make it 66-61, Bjorklund drew a foul and was sent to the line to shoot two. Making both, he made it a 66-63 game with 2:48 to play.
Bjorklund then grabbed the defensive rebound and made two more free throws to pull his team back within one, down 66-65 with 1:53 to play. The junior continued to dominate the late second half pressure, knotting things up at 67-67 with a made jumpshot after a GVSU turnover.
Shortly after NMU tied things up, Olayinka made the block of the game, stifling the Lakers’ chance at the basket to gain possession back for NMU. Justin Kuehl‘s initial shot bounced wide of the rim but it was Tre Harvey who grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul in the process. He gave the Wildcats their first lead of the second half, and first since 6:30 elapsed in the first, with a pair of made free throws for the 69-67 score.
With 23 seconds left on the clock, the Wildcats called timeout as they were up 69-67. The Lakers drew a foul on the ensuing play and were sent to the line to shoot two where they tied things up.
As time expired in regulation, Max Bjorklund attempted a three-point shot to win the game to no success and the extra session was required to decide a victor.
The Lakers opened up the overtime period with a made dunk before Alec Fruin hit a deep three-point shot to reclaim the lead, 72-71 with 3:07 to play in overtime.
GVSU hit two consecutive shots to go up 76-72 and the Wildcats were forced to call a timeout to regroup with 43 seconds left.
It didn’t take long to adjust as Kuehl hit a three-point shot just seconds later to make it a 76-75 game with 36 seconds to play.
With zeros on the clock, the Lakers took game one of the weekend series, 81-75.
In the stats, the two teams practically tied each category, including rebounds, assists and blocks.
The Wildcats dominated both the bench points and second point chances, leading in each with 21-5 and 17-6 advantages, respectively.
With a 12-point second half, Bjorklund led the team in points (17) while picking up six assists and four rebounds as well. Two other Wildcats posted double-figures in the overtime loss as Olayinka and Kuehl each registered 12 points.
NMU and GVSU return to the court Saturday afternoon as the Wildcats look to split the regular season series.