Season opener starts ’Cats off on good note

Ray Bressette

The women’s basketball team will host Finlandia at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 at Berry Events Center following a 98-68 victory over Madonna University Sunday, Nov. 10 in the season opener.

Junior guard Alyssa Colla led the ’Cats in scoring in Sunday’s nonconference game against Madonna with 13 points.

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NMU head coach Troy Mattson said Colla’s performance is a sign of things to come this season.

“Alyssa is one of the premiere players and we expect her to have a great year,” Mattson said. “She’s improved even more from last year, and her play is very encouraging for our team.”

Four other players scored double digits in the game for NMU, including senior forward Annie Rubendunst with 12, sophomore guard Katelyn Husband with 11, sophomore guard Anna Liewen with 10 and junior forward Abbey DeBruin with 10.

Mattson said he felt the win was an overall team effort.

“Everybody chipped in and did what they were supposed to do,” Mattson said. “It felt good to see everyone play well on both ends of the floor. We really improved on our defensive mistakes from the previous week that cost us a chance in our exhibition game.”

Mattson said Rubendunst’s performance stood out.

“Annie has [had] an incredible fall for us so far,” Mattson said. “She’s had a bit of a tumultuous career here at Northern, but she’s been as stable and steady as anybody out there this year. We’re really excited with the level that she’s at because she has a lot that she can add to this team.”

The ‘Cats shot 47.2 percent from the floor, making 34 of 72 shots to start their season at 1-0.

As the team moves deeper into the schedule, Rubendunst said she likes how they come together.

“We can see we’re playing better as a team together,” Rubendunst said. “We’re having great chemistry as the season is moving along; we know when to pass the ball, when to shoot and just how to go out there and execute.”

Mattson said his team will need to adjust to NCAA rules this year in order to move forward. The rules now forbid physical play in the post, on shooters and on ball handlers.

“We’ve been an extremely physical team in the last couple years,” Mattson said. “We have to make adjustments as coaches on how to relay to our players that the refs are not going to allow the game to be played the way we have the last few years, which is our biggest challenge moving forward in the season.”

The Wildcats look for their second straight win as they host the Finlandia Lions in another nonconference matchup at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 at Berry Events Center. The game will be Finlandia’s first of the season.

The Wildcats defeated the Lions 78-21 last season Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Berry Events Center. Junior guard Lauren Gruber’s 10 points led NMU in scoring.

Mattson said Finlandia will have a lot to play for on Saturday.

“Finlandia’s going to come in here and play their hearts on our court,” Mattson said. “It’s our job to go out there and keep control of the game and continue to get better throughout the game.”

Rubendunst said a win over Finlandia will give the team an edge as the season progresses.

“We need to play well to feel good heading into our bigger games,” Rubendust said. “This should be a good year for us. There are good teams in our conference, but we should be able to play above any team’s level.”