’Cats end season with two home wins

Katie Bultman

The women’s basketball team enter the final week of regular season play with an improved 10 to 11 GLIAC record, resulting from consecutive home wins this past weekend.

Sophomore guard Alyssa Colla (3) earned 21 points against the LSSU Lakers on Saturday, Feb. 23. Colla tallied the night’s game-high scoring.

The ’Cats still have a possibility of entering the tournament after the two wins this weekend, one from a 64-53 victory over LSSU on Thursday, Feb. 21 and the other from a 71-56 victory over Northwood on Saturday, Feb. 23.

NMU took a 29-18 halftime lead over LSSU on Thursday at the Berry Events Center. The ’Cats out-rebounded the Lakers, 36-30, and shot 44 percent from the floor in comparison to Lake State’s 34 percent.

Head coach Troy Mattson said members of the team stepped up this game and players coming off the bench took on some bigger roles.

“We played extremely well the first half and dominated the defensive glass,” Mattson said. “(Sophomore forward) Brooke Coenen had a huge second half. She puts in a lot of work to get better. (Sophomore center) Courtney Lemon made a couple of big threes. (Sophomore guard) Sarah Miller made a couple of good plays, as well.”

Miller contributed a couple of steals to help the ’Cats on the defensive end, and Lemon put in six points off of two plays where she put in shots from behind the arc.

Coenen came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points for the Wildcats. She also had three rebounds, one block and a steal. Coenen said the win helped boost the team confidence going into Saturday’s game.

“We were stronger than them in the lane,” Coenen said. “Being on our home court had a big advantage. This is going to help us for Saturday, and it’s going to boost our energy.”

In the second half, sophomore guard Lauren Gruber hit a three-point shot that put the ’Cats up, 60-48, with just over three minutes to go. Coenen scored the last points of the game when she sunk a pair of free throws to take a 14-point lead.

LSSU scored three more points before the final buzzer sounded, but the Wildcats had sealed the win.

Sophomore guard Alyssa Colla, who finished with nine points, two rebounds and a steal, said the team was excited, and the girls on the bench really put in the extra effort on the court.

“It’s a big win,” Colla said. “We came off a couple of close losses. We’re coming together and we’re going to push through and make a run here. Brooke did really well tonight, (freshman forward) Nea Makela did really well in the beginning, and Courtney came in with some big shots.”

On Saturday, Feb. 23 the Wildcats took the second victory of the weekend with a 71-56 win over Northwood University.

Mattson said the team really improved over the weekend with the two wins when team members stepped up across the board.

“That might have been our best 40 minutes of ball,” Mattson said. “Our bench was huge today, as they were Thursday. Brooke Coenen, Sarah Miller and (sophomore forward) Maria Almquist all stepped up. I was just excited the girls played this well in front of a nice crowd.”

Northwood started off the game with an early lead. The ’Cats took their first lead in the first half after Miller hit a three-pointer that put NMU up 13-11. Northwood took the lead back only once during the rest of the game. The Wildcats led the entire second half, by as much as 15 points.

Sophomore forward Abbey DeBruin put in 12 points and Miller had 10 points. Colla scored the game-high 21 points for the afternoon and pulled down six rebounds.

Colla said the team was excited that there is still a possibility they could move on after the wins from the weekend.

“Obviously, there was a lot of pressure going into this game,” Colla said. “Basically, whoever was going to win this game was going to have a shot at the tournament. We played a great second half and we just need to play like that.”

The Wildcats face rival Michigan Tech at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 in Houghton, Mich.

“It’s really tough up at Tech,” Mattson said. “It should be a great crowd with a lot of energy and we’ll accept the challenge. We’re playing as good as we have all year. I can’t be more proud of the way they’ve come along.”