The NMU women’s basketball team got a much-needed win, Saturday, and narrowly missed picking up another one last Thursday as they beat Saginaw Valley, and lost in overtime to Northwood.
On Thursday, the ‘Cats jumped out to an early lead and spent the rest of the game trying to hold off Northwood in a back- and-forth battle. Northwood took the lead with just over 10 minutes left in the second half, but never led by more than five points.
Northwood clung to a three-point lead as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Northern ran a play to junior guard Kelsey Deacon who pulled up and shot a long three. The shot hit nothing but net.
“We set up the play on the timeout and I ran it and just shot the ball and it went in,” Deacon said.
“She deserved to make that shot,” head coach Troy Mattson added.
In the overtime period the ‘Cats battled back and forth with Northwood, neither team gaining more than a two point lead. As the clock waned in the overtime period, the Wildcats once again found themselves down by a single possession.
The team passed the ball inside to senior forward Allison Carroll who couldn’t put the ball through the hoop. The scoreboard hanging above the Berry Events Center read 70-71. NMU had lost another single possession game, the seventh one of the year.
This was the third of the last four games against Northwood that went into overtime; NMU has lost every overtime game against them.
“I thought we played a real fine game. We got control on the offensive side of the ball, got people the ball when they needed. It was real encouraging,” Mattson said. “It was a good basketball game and a good basketball team won.”
Carroll led the ‘Cats in scoring with 18 points,14 of which came in the second half and overtime. Deacon and sophomore Angie Leckson scored in double digits,as well with 14 and 11 points. Carroll also added nine rebounds in the game.
With the exception of the clutch three at the end of regulation, the Wildcats were once again cold from beyond the arc – shooting only 22 percent for the game.
On Saturday the Wildcats battled the Saginaw Valley Cardinals for fifth place in the GLIAC North Division. SVSU held a one game lead over the ‘Cats entering Saturday’s game. When the two teams met earlier in the year Northern picked up a 47-39 victory.
Saturday’s game was a higher scoring affair as the ‘Cats picked up another victory, 79-68.
“We played smart enough and took care of the basketball and gave ourselves chances to score,” Mattson said. “It was a good game, I don’t think it was our best of the year, but it was a win and we needed a win.”
The ‘Cats were led by emerging freshman star Steffani Stoeger who scored a career high 27 points against the Cardinals. She also added a game high eight rebounds.
Stoeger did most of her damage from the free throw line as she made 14 of the 16 free throws she attempted. Her 14 free throws are the third most of any player in the GLIAC. The team attempted a total of 30 free throws.
“It’s exciting to finally get a win; it feels great,” Carroll said. “We played well, Kellie (Reitveld) and Steff made some huge shots to carry us.”
Allison Carroll and Angie Leckson both scored in double figures for the ‘Cats with 15 and 13 points.
Carroll has now scored in double figures in 21 of the ‘Cats 25 games. Freshman Kellie Reitveld picked up eight points coming off the bench, including two important threes late in the game to secure NMU’s lead.
Northern appeared to correct its shooting problems from behind the three-point arc as the team shot 33 percent. The ‘Cats shot 44 percent from the field in the game.
This Saturday the ‘Cats return home to face Lake Superior State in their final game of the year. This game will be the final collegiate game for LaShawn Lambert and Carroll.
“Allison Carroll is wrapping up an incredible four year career here,” Mattson said. “The wins might not have been there during her four years, but her individual statistics show her success.”
Carroll is the leading scorer and rebounder for the ‘Cats, averaging 14.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in her final season with the Wildcats.
Lambert, a junior college transfer, has spent her time at NMU as a key player off the bench. This season she is averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds as one of the first Wildcats to come off the bench in most games.
“LaShawn Lambert came here from a community college in Ohio and she will be graduating in May; I’m real proud of that,” Mattson said. “She’s had some big games here.”
Saturday’s game against LSSU begins at 11 a.m. in the Berry Events Center.