SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – After 20 minutes of play on Friday night at the Sanford Clinic Holiday Classic the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team held a 33-30 lead against the host school the Augustana College Vikings. The Vikings out-scored the Wildcats in the second half, 45-33, to take the game 75-66. With the loss the ‘Cats are now 1-10 on the season while Augustana improves to 11-3.
For the first 13 plus minutes of the game the Vikings held leads as large as 11 points, but the ‘Cats chipped away at that lead to tie the game at 23-all when Jake Suardini hit a three-pointer at 6:43. Tyler Kazmierkoski then made two free throws to give the ‘Cats the 25-23 edge. With less than three minutes left in the half Jerard Ajami made a shot from beyond the arc to give the ‘Cats the lead again at 28-26 before the Vikings would tie the score again for the third time in the half. NMU ended the half with a 5-2 spurt to take the three-point lead into the locker room.
About 13 seconds into the second half the Vikings tied the game for the fourth time at 33. Suardini answered for the ‘Cats for a brief 35-33 lead. After another tie at 35-all, Ajami canned a three-pointer to give the ‘Cats its final lead of the game at 38-35 with 16:35 left in the game. Augustana went on a 9-0 run over a four minute span to take over the lead at 44-38. Suardini cut the lead down to seven points at 52-45 with 8:38 left in the game. NMU would have the lead down under 10 points several times over the remaining eight minutes. The ‘Cats were down by 15 points (70-55) with three minutes left in the game and went on an 11-5 run to end the game. Kazmierkoski accounted for five of the points at the end.
Kazmierkoski led the ‘Cats on the night with 21 points. Ajami with 19 points and Suardini with 17 were the other two ‘Cats in double-figures. Sebastien Salois had four rebounds on the night. Corey McIntosh led the Viking with 23 points.
NMU had a little bit better shooting night than last night at 22-47 (46.8 percent). From the three-point line the ‘Cats were 11-25 (44 percent). Ten of the three-pointers came from three players. Kazmierkoski led the way with four, Suardini and Ajami had three each. From the free throw line, NMU was 11-18 (61.1 percent). The ‘Cats had 19 rebounds on the night as the home team had 32.
NMU will face South Dakota for the second time in three days on Sunday (Dec. 30) when the two will square off again on the Coyotes home court. South Dakota defeated the ‘Cats last night (Dec. 27) 71-49.
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Sports Information Director