After upsetting the 20th ranked Grand Valley State Lakers on Saturday, the women’s basketball team will try to keep a hot shooting hand as they head to Ohio to take on Ashland on Thursday, and Tiffin on Saturday.
According to Head coach Troy Mattson, the 81-68 victory over Grand Valley is a significant game in the team’s history.
“It’s the biggest win in this program in many, many years”, Mattson said. “To beat a No. 20 team, and the prestige and reputation that they carry along with all their athletic programs, to play great against them and get the win is just huge for our program.”
Senior guard Kelsey Deacon agreed with Mattson’s assessment of the win.
“It was a great win for us, we’ve never beat a nationally ranked team,” Deacon said.
Deacon played one of her best games of the season, with 26 points and seven assists, both game highs.
“Once you hit one shot, it gives you more momentum to hit the next one,” she said.
Unlike the previous week, the team had legitimate practice time in the Berry Events Center, which, according to Mattson, was a key factor to the victory. Heavy practice scheduling by other teams has been a key reason as to why the ‘Cats have not been working in the Berry Events Center in the past few weeks.
“The biggest thing, I think, is the fact that we got to practice in (the Berry) yesterday. That was the first time we’ve practiced in here since Jan. 9,” Mattson said. “We’ve had three games in here but we haven’t had a practice where we just come in and shoot hundreds of shots, and that’s what happened yesterday. It really carries over to the game, and it shows. We look good when we get a chance to practice in here.”
Mattson said the extra practice time allowed the Northern women to take firm control of the offensive play, especially in the second half. Junior Christa Erickson was the second leading scorer in the game. Along with Deacon, she was a key part to the successful offense in the second half.
“Everybody hustled on both ends of the court. It was a great team effort overall. Everybody really understood each person’s personnel,” Erickson said.
The Wildcat’s defense put a stop to Grand Valley for a majority of the contest. Sophomore Erin Powers played an integral role, leading the game with seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
“It’s one of the biggest wins that we’ve had here in a long time,” Powers said. “We just started clicking. Hopefully we can use this as momentum going into the home stretch of the season.”
The Wildcats are on the road next week, first against the 11-8 Ashland, and again against Grand Valley.
Mattson said he has been preparing the girls since Saturday’s victory, with lots of practice time and observation of the opposing team’s techniques.
“We’re doing the same thing we’ve done all year. Coaches are creatures of habit; we’re not going to change,” Mattson said. “We’re going to do the same exact thing that we do every single day.
“We’re coming in, shooting, covering some of our stuff, some of Ashland’s stuff, and trying to stay healthy.”