Basketball splits in close 2-point loss

Brice Burge

It was another weekend split for the Wildcats women’s basketball team, as Northern was able to defeat the Findlay Oilers on Saturday, Feb. 5, 68-55, but fell to the Wayne State Warriors, 57-59, on Thursday, Feb. 3.

“We always hope to come away with two,” said guard Chelsea Lyons. “We will take one at this point, but we need to start taking two.”

The 12-point victory against the GLIAC South-leading Oilers was the first road win for the Wildcats since Thanksgiving break against Southwest Minnesota State. The Wildcats were led by Lyons, who had her third double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Hillary Bowling also scored 20 and post specialist Staci Beckel added 15 more. Defensively, the ’Cats held the top Oiler scorers to their season average, but shut down the two remaining starters and the four bench players to just 16 points combined for the game. Findlay shot a season low 29.6 percent from the floor, making just 16 of their 54 shots.

Jackie Davey sets up in the post against Cassy Schemberger of Lake Superior State. The two will fight again tonight at LSSU. // Justin Key/NW

The weekend unfortunately started with a heartbreaking loss, as NMU lost on a last-second layup in Detroit. Starting guard Lena Thomas had played 33 minutes without scoring a point, but with fourteen seconds left, she took the rock to the hoop for the game winning basket.

“It was tough to lose that game,” Lyons said. “We couldn’t get anything to fall in the second half.”

Helping the Wildcats in both games this weekend was Bowling, as she played and started her first games since injuring her arm against the Grand Valley State Lakers on Jan. 20. The senior forward missed three games, two of which were losses.

“I hate being on the bench; it’s very frustrating,” Bowling said.  “You have mini heart attacks on the bench ‘cause I just can’t stand not being able to do anything on the bench.”

For the weekend, Bowling put in 24 points in 53 minutes. She still has some pain as she extends her arm, but she is playing through the hurt.

“Every time I shoot normal it hurts the back (of the elbow) and pinches it,” Bowling said. “It hurts for like a minute and then its fine.”

The weekend split also helped saved the Wildcats playoff chances. Currently the ’Cats are 4-10 in the GLIAC and in the 11th overall position. To make the GLIAC tournament, NMU needs to take the eighth spot away from 6-7 Northwood. Ferris State, Wayne State (both 6-8) in the GLIAC also need to fall in the final three weeks of the season to allow Northern a chance to claw up the standings. However the team is not focusing on their playoff hopes.

“We’re letting coach worry with the standings,” Lyons said. “We trust that he will come in and get us prepared for our games.”

The first challenge in the ’Cats’ late-season push will be tonight in the Soo, as the team will face the second-seeded Lake Superior State Lakers in the last regular season game against a U.P. team. Despite getting snubbed in the national Top 25 Coaches’ poll, the Lakers are 11-3 in the GLIAC and fourth in the NCAA Midwest Regional Rankings behind GLVC leader Quincy (Mo.) and GLIAC rivals Michigan Tech, Grand Valley State. The Lakers are led by their quick guard Emily Joseph as well as post player Cassy Schemberger. Both players had good offensive games against the Wildcats earlier this season, scoring 18 and 23 points respectively in the Jan. 15 game at the Berry Events Center.

“They did a lot of ball screens and were talking about if we’re going to trap it, hedge it or just step out,” Beckel said. “We have to figure the ball screen out and make sure the post player is covered when she slips from the screen.”