’Cats shoot past Lakers and ’Wolves

Katie Bultman

The women’s basketball team took a step forward this weekend to improve their record to 10-8 overall and 7-7 in the GLIAC conference .

In a win on Thursday, Jan. 24 against Lake Superior State University, NMU edged the Lakers 58-52.

The following Saturday, Jan. 26, the Wildcats were defeated by Northwood University.

Sophomore Alyssa Colla focuses past her opponent for a layup earlier this season. Colla added six assists on Saturday, Jan. 26 against Northwood.

With only a few games left, the ’Cats said they are looking ahead to the remainder of the season.

Head coach Troy Mattson said the team is focused on making steps to move forward and better themselves as a whole.

“We want to continue to improve,” Mattson said. “We have made big steps offensively, we’ve gotten better on defense, and we’ve also made less mistakes defensively. Now we are looking to improve on all of this.”

Thursday night, Lake Superior State University held the lead for less than three minutes.

The Wildcats took over at 15:05 in the first half, and with help from the 30 team rebounds and seven steals, the Wildcats led for the remainder of the game.

The ’Cats shot 86 percent from the free-throw line for the win as they took advantage of the open shot.

The Wildcats had 21 opportunities at the charity stripe and managed to put in 18.

Freshman forward Nea Makela scored a team-high 15 points, nine of which she added from the line.

Makela also grabbed eight rebounds to contribute to the Wildcat win.

Makela said she was surprised by how the night went for her at the free throw line.

“As a team, we were good on defense,” Makela said. “Individually, the free throws I don’t usually make, and I was happy I only missed two.”

In addition to the 15 points put up by Makela, sophomore guard Alyssa Colla added 14 points and four assists.

Sophomore forward Abbey DeBruin chipped in 12 points, and sophomore guard Lauren Gruber also reached the double figure range.

Gruber racked up 11 points, eight rebounds, and three steals for the win.

The team effort kept the ’Cats one step ahead of the Lakers for the entire second half.

Mattson said one of the best aspects of the game was how well the team worked on defense.

“Defensively, we slowed their best player, Maria Blazejewski, down,” Mattson said. “We did a good job of containing her.”

On Saturday, Jan. 26 the Wildcats faced the Northwood University Timberwolves.

NMU struggled with 19 turnovers, in comparison to Northwood’s seven.

As a result, the ’Cats gave up 22 points off turnovers and 13 points off fast breaks.

The Wildcats managed to score additional points from the free throw line, where the girls were 92 percent.

The Wildcats also beat the Timberwolves on the boards, as NMU took down 35 rebounds over the 31 rebounds that Northwood had.

Mattson said the team put forth a good effort against a tough conference team.

“All of the teams in the north conference are very, very close and it’s hard to win on the road,” Mattson said. “Northwood is playing maybe as good as anybody right now. We played really well for 35 minutes of that game, there were just five minutes in there where we did not.”

Sophomore forward Brooke Coenen played a solid game for the ’Cats, adding a career high 11 points, three rebounds, one block and one steal.

Four of Coenen’s points came from the field, one of which was a career first three-point shot. Coenen hit an additional two from the free throw line.

“I think we matched up well,” Coenen said. “They made good plays against us and we really improved this weekend, breaking our losing streak. We had a couple of good games.”

The Wildcats face their rivals at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Berry Events Center against the Michigan Tech Huskies.