Women’s basketball team drops first away game of regular season

Brice Burge

The season has started for the Northern Michigan women’s basketball team, as the Wildcats fell in their opener 67-51 to the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

“I thought (Minnesota-Duluth) was very organized, as they had a bunch of seniors coming back. They knew what they were doing,” said head coach Troy Mattson. “We had a lot of new people in the game and were disorganized. We didn’t do the things that gave us the best chance to win.”

Offensive production was scarce for the Wildcats with just four players scoring from the field. Kellie Rietveld led Northern in points with 18. Chelsea Lyons, a transfer from UW-Green Bay, put up 12 points and Steffani Stoeger added 10 more. Four other players combined for the other 11 points.

“We need to score in the post,” Mattson said.  “Duluth is the biggest team we will play all year, with their six-foot players. They really caused a problem for us. They made plays in and around the basket that we weren’t able to.”

NMU lost the points in the paint battle 22-8, showing the losses of graduated players Angie Leckson and Mariah Dunham. The players combined for 20 ppg last year, most of those scored from the lane.

“You’re losing two seniors and replacing them with two people that haven’t played a lot of minutes,” Mattson said. “Jackie Davey and Stacy Beckel have done a good job the entire postseason. I expect both to have good years, but when you lose (Leckson and Dunham) you will lose a lot of experience in the beginning of the season.”

The Bulldogs also found more consistency and depth with their lineup, as five players scored in the double digits. One of those players, Kelsey Hewitt, came off the bench for Duluth. UMD also outscored the ’Cats in bench points 19-9.

Up next for the Wildcats is the Quincy Tipoff Tournament at Quincy University in Illinois on Friday, Nov. 19. NMU will face the Missouri Western State Griffins in the first round. The Griffins (7-20, 5-11 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association for the 2009-2010 season) are playing their first official game against NMU. MWS is 1-1 in exhibition games this year. The winner of this game will play the winner of Quincy and Upper Iowa University on Saturday, Nov. 20 for the tournament championship.

“We need to get more organized,” Mattson said. “We need to understand what to do on the offensive and defensive ends and execute it properly. We need to understand how we’re going to play and what we need to do.”

Northern Michigan was picked to finish third in the GLIAC North preseason media poll, behind Grand Valley and Michigan Tech.

Northwood, recently placed in the North after divisional realignment were needed for the additions of Ohio Dominican and Lake Erie to the conference, is fourth and Lake Superior State is fifth. Ferris and Saginaw Valley were picked for the two cellar-dweller spots in the division.

Stoeger also received some preseason recognition, as she was named first team All-GLIAC North division. The five-foot-seven-inch senior guard started all 32 games for NMU last season and was named to the second team All-GLIAC North division and the GLIAC championship tournament team. Stoeger was also the NMU MVP last season.

Northern Michigan will come home for a Tuesday game against Division III opponent Finlandia on Nov. 23 for their home debut. They will then head to the Concordia Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend and return to the Berry Events Center on Dec. 4 to take on Michigan Tech in their first conference game of the season.