Wildcats host second-place MTU

Ray Bressette

The women’s basketball team will host their rival Michigan Tech Huskies at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at Berry Events Center in the team’s regular-season finale, before heading to the GLIAC tournament.

Anthony Viola/NW Sophomore forward Alyson Matkovich (23), sophomore forward Nea Makela (20) and junior guard Lauren Gruber join senior forward Annie Rubendunst (15) in her final game with Michigan Tech, Thursday, Feb. 27.
Anthony Viola/NW
Sophomore forward Alyson Matkovich (23), sophomore forward Nea Makela (20) and junior guard Lauren Gruber join senior forward Annie Rubendunst (15) in her final game with Michigan Tech, Thursday, Feb. 27.

The Wildcats are riding a six-game win streak, and are coming off two road wins this past weekend against Lake Superior State University and Northwood University. NMU defeated LSSU, 52-38, Thursday, Feb. 20 in Sault Ste. Marie.

The ’Cats went on to defeat Northwood, 56-46, Saturday, Feb. 22 in Midland, Mich. Senior forward Annie Rubendunst led the game in scoring with 17 points. With the win, NMU clinched home court advantage in the first round of the GLIAC playoffs.

Head coach Troy Mattson said he’s proud of what his team has accomplished this season.

“Getting in the tournament is the first thing,” Mattson said. “Now we’re hosting a tournament game next week. We’re picking off the little goals I set for our team, and we seem to be taking care of business by playing so good right now. We have a good possibility to make it to regionals, and it really comes down to our next couple of games and continuing to play the way we are.”

The Huskies have lost three of their last five games, with an 80-58 loss to Northwood and a 72-60 win over LSSU this past weekend.

Senior forward Katie Becker said the team looks forward to playing their rival every season.

“The rivalry goes back from past years,” Becker said. “Since I got here, everyone has said, ‘If there’s a team to beat, it’s Tech.’ They’ve always been a great team; you always want to beat them. Now we’re almost up there with them and have the chance to tie them, and that’s huge for us.”

MTU sits at second place in the GLIAC, tied with first-place Wayne State, with a record of 16-5. NMU is in third place at 15-6. If the ’Cats defeat Michigan Tech on Thursday, they will tie the Huskies for second place in the GLIAC.

A Wildcat win and a Wayne State loss Thursday will put NMU in a three-way tie for a first place finish in the conference.

Mattson said the team looks forward to the opportunity to end the season tied for top of the conference.

“It’d be nice to get a share of a title,” Mattson said. “This game means most in terms of standings, and we’ve got regional implications going on, so it’s a big game in a lot of ways.”

Michigan Tech defeated the ’Cats, 71-65, in the last match-up Monday, Feb. 3 in Houghton.

The Wildcats had a 28-27 lead at the half in the game, before five lead changes in the second half gave the Huskies the second-half lead.

Junior guard Alyssa Colla led the ’Cats to within two points in the final 15 seconds of the game, but they were not able to complete the comeback. Colla led NMU in scoring with 22 points in the loss. Sophomore guard Mackenzie Perttu led Michigan Tech in scoring, with 30 points.

Mattson said the team will be ready with a game plan in order to beat Michigan Tech this time around.

“We’re going to make some adjustments on defense to help us out,” Mattson said. “We need to finish shots in and around the basket. We had some opportunities around the basket that we missed in the first game. We can really do a lot to help ourselves out on the defensive end more than anything.”

Perttu leads the Huskies on offense this season, averaging 16 points per game. Sophomore guard Danielle Blake and sophomore forward/center Kylie Moxley also average double-digit points for the Michigan Tech offense. The team averages 71.4 points a game, while their opponents average 66.2 points.

Becker said the ’Cats are hoping for great fan support to help the team take down the Huskies.

“We need as much momentum as we can get from everyone,” Becker said. “The Berry is such a big place, the more people we get, the louder that place is going to be, and it’s really going to help us out.”