NMU looks to rebound against GLIAC foes

Jon Young

It was a tough weekend at home for the NMU women’s basketball team (4-6 GLIAC, 8-9 overall) as they lost a pair of close conference games to the Grand Valley State University Lakers and the Ferris State University Bulldogs.

On Saturday, the ’Cats played the GLIAC North’s first place Bulldogs and took them to the wire, but were unable to come out with the win, falling, 78-71.

Head coach Troy Mattson said being out-rebounded was the difference in the game.

“The rebounding issue has really been a struggle,” Mattson said. “We’re just getting beat up on the boards by some really good teams and its affecting the game.”

NMU went into halftime leading 33-24, and freshman guard Alyssa Colla said the team is working on putting together a complete game heading into the seasons final stretch.

“We talked about playing a full 40 minutes at halftime because we played a great half,” Colla said. “Unfortunately, a few things did not go our way in the second half and we couldn’t pull it off.”

The Bulldogs struggled with NMU’s two-three zone in the first half but made adjustments in the second half and shot 60.9 percent from the field.

“They put a few sets in that we hadn’t seen and they executed them and we didn’t execute properly on the defensive end,” Mattson said. “They knew they were in trouble and they had to hit us back and they hit us good.”

The ’Cats got down by as much as 17 in the second half before they made a huge run at the end. Senior point guard Chelsea Lyons dropped in a season high 30 points. Colla also added 17 points.

“Chelsea just continues to dominate; out there she’s just having a heck of a stretch here for us,” Mattson said. “Hopefully we play well enough coming down the stretch here to get ourselves in the conference tournament because we have the chance to be a really good team and were getting there.”

On Thursday, the ’Cats hosted the Lakers and this time it was Grand Valley escaping with the win, 51-48. Much like the game against Ferris, NMU went into the half with a lead and also lost the rebound battle, 34-23.

Lemon said the team has to work on finishing games and cleaning up the glass.

“We are working on playing a full 40 minutes without mistakes,” Lemon said. “Also, we are trying to improve our rebounding so other teams don’t get second chances to score.”

NMU lead for most of the second half until a three-pointer with 1:05 left in the game gave Grand Valley a 49-48 lead.

After a couple of free throws, GVSU took a 51-48 lead and a last-second half court heave by Colla fell short. Like the game against Ferris, Mattson said it came down to rebounds. GVSU collected 12 offensive boards, compared to four for NMU.

“Grand Valley out-competed us on offensive rebounds and it hurt us,” Mattson said. “I thought the zone was looking really good. We had them checked at bay for most of the night and then we would just breakdown when the shot went up.”

Lyons led the ’Cats with 20 points, 13 of which she earned at the charity stripe. Lemon chipped in 11 points and senior guard Hillary Bowling added another eight.

The ’Cats travel downstate at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 taking on Hillsdale. Then at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28 they face off with Northwood.

Mattson said this road trip is crucial going toward playoffs.

“We have to go on the road and win, we’ve played well on the road so were not afraid of it,” Mattson said. “We need to go down and get ourselves back on the winning track.”