Wildcats earn honors in Moorhead State Tournament

Lauren Lee

The NMU women’s basketball team will open home play this weekend when they host No. 9-ranked Concordia University at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 at Berry Events Center.

NMU is coming off two wins in their weekend opener at the Moorhead State Tournament in Moorhead, Minn. this past weekend. NMU’s senior guard Alyssa Colla was named the tournament’s Co-MVP averaging 24 points per game and shooting 18-37, while senior guard Lauren Gruber was named to the All-Tournament Team averaging 14 points and shooting 9-17.

Gruber credited her achievement to the work of her team.

“It’s really exciting for the team in general,” Gruber said. “We played really well together, and you don’t get open shots without people driving, kicking and keeping your head up and looking for your teammates all around. It’s an honor for myself and a really big honor for my team.”

The Wildcats defeated the University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles, 81-73 in overtime, Friday, Nov. 14 at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. With 11 seconds left in regulation, down 67-65, senior forward Abbey DeBruin made a basket with one second remaining, pushing the game into overtime. NMU took a 6-0 lead in overtime, clutching the win at the free-throw line. Colla scored eight of NMU’s 14 points in overtime.  The ’Cats then took the win over Minnesota State University Moorhead 49-45 Saturday, Nov. 15. MSUM led at the end of the first half 29-27, but the Wildcats held MSUM to 16 points in the second half while scoring 22 to take the victory.

Head coach Troy Mattson said his team’s hard work made up for their offensive mistakes.

“We played extremely hard and refused to lose,” Mattson said. “Both games were very tough, but defensively we played extremely well to keep ourselves in the game.

Offensively we didn’t play great, but we need to find some people to step up and help us in the scoring department.”

Colla totaled 48 points in the ’Cats’ two victories.

Colla said the team worked hard for the wins last weekend, pushing themselves to kick it up in overtime.

“It was hard playing overtime in our first full game in seven months,” Colla said. “We were dying at the end but never gave up, and once we got the momentum pushing it into overtime we felt we were going to come out on top. These two wins were battles with good teams in the region, so they were good wins for us.”

The ’Cats will play their first home game of the season against the No. 9-ranked Concordia Golden Bears at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23.

Colla said their home opener will be a challenge.

“They are ranked pretty high right now, so it’s going to be a tough game,” Colla said. “I’m glad we get to play at home, as they are a really good team; we’re going to prepare all week for them. We’ve had a really good preseason and a couple first weeks of practice and things are starting to come together now as we’re starting to click with each other on the court.”

The Golden Bears ended the Radisson Hotel Roseville Classic Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Gangelhoff Center with a 1-1 record. Concordia was defeated by Pittsburgh State Friday, Nov. 14 by a score of 66-59. The Golden Eagles pulled a win against Fort Hays State University, 70-68, Friday, Nov. 15. Last season Concordia defeated NMU 75-60 Wednesday, Nov. 27 in St. Paul, Minn. The Golden Eagles had four players score into the double digits including senior forward Anika Whiting and senior forward Amanda Barton.

Mattson said the Wildcats have used their tough defense now and in previous seasons to get the win.

Gruber said she’s expecting a challenging game since the Golden Eagles have primarily returning starters.

“Starting off senior year is an exciting and bittersweet moment, and at the same time you want it to start off well,” Gruber said. “Last year they were a really good team with a lot of returning players so I think it’s going to be pretty brutal and rough. They have really talented shooters from the outside and pretty talented post players on the inside, so it’s going to be a battle all around and I think we just need to bring our A-game to win.”