The women’s basketball team won four of their last five games since their season-opening loss at Minnesota Duluth on Monday, Nov. 15.
The Wildcats split their games at the Quincy/Subway Tipoff Tournament, as they won the semifinal game against Missouri Western 73-58 for their first win of the season. NMU was lead by center Erin Powers, as she set a tournament record for rebounds with her own career high of 19 rebounds. The six-foot-one-inch senior also added 14 points.
“It feels pretty good to set records, but it helped us win the game,” Powers said.
Powers and the rest of the team had little time to celebrate as they took on the host Quincy Hawks for the tournament championship less than 24 hours later. The Wildcats fell in that game 92-54, as they shot only 35.5% from the floor, compared to the 52.9% of Quincy.
“The team didn’t play bad, they just shot badly,” said assistant coach Carly Benson. “We did a lot of the right things, but things just didn’t fall.”
According to Benson, the tournament set-up provided good lessons for the team.
“It was good experience for us to go on the road and play in a tournament before the end of the season,” she said.
The Wildcats returned to the Berry Events Center for an all-U.P. battle against NCAA D-III school Finlandia on Tuesday, Nov. 23. NMU never trailed in the game, as they won 94-57. Junior forward Hillary Bowling had a career-high 22 points to lead NMU, while senior center Jaclyn Davey added 12 more, while junior forward Staci Beckel and Powers also scored in double digits.
“It was important for us to get this first win at home,” Benson said. “It sets the stage for the rest of the home games this season. You have to take advantage at home, because you don’t know what will happen on the road.”
The Wildcats then headed to Gangelhoff Center for the Radisson Roseville Thanksgiving Basketball Classic on Saturday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 27. Northern opened up against the host team, the Concordia St. Paul Golden Bears, and found their toughest match of the season. The teams ended regulation with a tie to send the game into overtime. The ’Cats then hit 14 straight free throws in overtime to take the 72-68 win.
Northern again had little time between games, as they took the tipoff against Southwest Minnesota State on Sunday, but unlike the previous tournament, the Wildcats excelled. Northern led the entire game, winning 63-57 over the Mustangs.
Powers and Beckel again led the Wildcats in scoring, as they put in 14 and 13 points respectively. The two centers, along with Davey, have been splitting time between the post position as they have different skills under the basket.
“I think I’m more of a rebounder than a shooter and (Beckel) and (Davey) have better one-on-one moves to score,” Powers said.
The Wildcats will now prepare for their GLIAC opener against Michigan Tech on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Berry Events Center. The Huskies are 3-1 and ranked 14th in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association poll. The rivalry was one of the highest-contested rivalries in the GLIAC last season, as the teams split the season series. Michigan Tech also defeated NMU for the GLIAC tournament championship.
“They are huge rivals and it’s a big game,” Beckel said. “We can’t be timid and we have to play strong defense and keep up our offensive (rebounds).”