UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – Hot shooting in the first half propelled the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team to a 73-56 win over the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals Thursday. NMU shot 62.5 percent from the floor for the first 20 minutes of play on 20-32. Also in the first half, NMU only committed one turnover. Tyler Kazmierkoski had 21 of his career-high 27 points in the half. With the win the Wildcats are now 2-12 overall and 2-4 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). SVSU falls to 6-7 and 2-4 respectively.
With the home team holding a 6-2 lead about two-and-a-half minutes into the game the ‘Cats went on a 13-2 run to take a 15-8 lead. Nine of the points in the run came off of three-pointers. Back-to-back three-pointers by Jake Suardini and Kazmierkoski gave NMU a 10-point lead (21-11) with a little more than 12 minutes left in the half. Over the last eight plus minutes of the half the ‘Cats held the Cardinals to three field goals. Over the same time the ‘Cats saw its lead go from 11 to 25 points. NMU held a 50-25 lead at the half. Jerard Ajami also had a big first half as he poured in 15 points.
NMU cooled off a bit in the second half as they shot 17.6 percent from the floor (3-17). The ‘Cats scored the first four points of the half on an Eric Sirrine layup and two free throws by Kazmierkoski for the 54-25 lead. The 29 points was the ‘Cats largest lead of the game. SVSU had the lead down to 17 points (56-39) before Kazmierkoski hit a three-pointer at 10:31 for the 59-39 lead. Kazmierkoski ended the night by going 6-10 from the three-point line.
Down the stretch NMU made five free throws in a row. Two were made by Ajami and Kyle Greene while Suardini sank one.
NMU ended the game by shooting 46.9 percent from the floor (23-49). Eleven of the baskets were made from beyond the arc. NMU attempted 28 three-pointers for 39.3 percent. Ajami was 3-6 from three-ball land. The ‘Cats were almost perfect from the free throw line as the team was 16-18 (88.9 percent). NMU was out-rebounded 34-26.
Ajami ended the night with 19 points while Suardini added 12. Greene off the bench had a team-high six rebounds. As a team NMU had 10 steals for the game. Suardini and Ajami led the way with three each. Marion Mackey led the Cardinals with 18 points. SVSU had two players with 10 or more rebounds. Mike Zuiderveen had a game-high 13 rebounds while teammate Lawrence Ross added 10.
The ‘Cats will play the second game of the road swing against Northwood on Saturday (Jan. 12) at 3 p.m.
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Sports Information Director