It was a tough weekend on the road for the NMU women’s basketball team (4-8 GLIAC, 8-11 overall) as they dropped two conference matches, running their losing streak to four games. Last Saturday, NMU lost to Northwood, 63-55.
The ’Cats got down by as much as 16 points in the first half. Head coach Troy Mattson said NMU’s slow start shadowed an otherwise strong performance.
“When you’re on the road, a team’s going to hit you with a lot of energy, and again I don’t think we were quite ready for it. We got ourselves in a big hole,” Mattson said. “The last 30 minutes of the game I thought we completely outplayed them.”
Senior guard Hillary Bowling said Northwood’s strong start hurt NMU and that the team needs to work on putting together a complete game.
“They shot (nearly) 50 percent in the first half and once they have a lead on you like that it’s hard to get back into it,” Bowling said.“We really just need to come out and play a full 40 right now. We’re getting behind in the beginning of the game so we really just have to pull a full 40 minutes together.”
Northern, in the midst of a four-game skid, hasn’t had a loss by more then eight points.
While Mattson isn’t happy with the losing he said it’s good to see Northern playing teams tough.
“We’re not playing bad basketball; do we have to play better? Yeah, we’re going to need to play a little better to win games, “ Mattson said. “But we’re not playing bad right now and that’s the encouraging part.”
Senior guard Chelsea Lyons led the ’Cats with 21 points and four assists.
Freshman center Courtney Lemon was the only other Wildcat in double figures, dropping in 13 points.
NMU’s first game of the weekend was against the Hillsdale College Chargers. NMU had a hard time converting shots against the 3-2 zone and dropped the game, 68-62.
“They played in a zone for 40 minutes and you can stay in a zone as long as the other team’s missing and we just couldn’t shoot the ball very good,” Mattson said.
The zone kept NMU out of the paint for the most part and held the Wildcats to 31.3 percent shooting and a season high 34 3-point attempts.
Mattson said the team had good looks but wasn’t able to convert.
“We missed a lot of open jump-shots that we normally make and it affected the outcome of the game,” Mattson said. “We made plays throughout the game but when the ball doesn’t go in the basket it doesn’t matter what else you’re doing, it makes it look bad and we just couldn’t get the ball to go down.”
The ’Cats stuck relatively close with the Chargers all game even taking a second half lead.
NMU got a big boost from their effort on the glass, collecting 20 offensive rebounds and 46 overall.
Bowling said it was good to see the team win the battle of the boards.
“It’s definitely encouraging, we knew they we’re small going into it so we knew we had to be aggressive rebounding” Bowling said. “We just need to carry that over from game to game.”
Lyons and freshman guard Alyssa Colla paced the ’Cats with 17 points a piece.
Sophomore forward Annie Rubendunst also chipped in 10 points and Lyons snagged nine rebounds to lead the team.
The ’Cats return home this week looking to snap their losing streak during a three game home-stand.
Mattson said the games against Wayne State and Findlay this weekend are crucial.
“I think a lot of what happens throughout the rest of the season is going to be dictated this weekend,” Mattson said.
At 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2 NMU hosts the Wayne State University Warriors. Then at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 4 the ’Cats take on the University of Findlay Oilers. Both games are at the Berry Events Center.
“Wayne State and Findlay are right in front of us in the conference and if we can beat them we’re going to own the tie breaker situation, so these are very important games,” Mattson said.