’Cats prepare for Husky women

Lauren Lee

Women’s basketball team faces the top GLIAC opponents this weekend

The women’s basketball team will play three games in five days this week, where they will welcome former assistant coach Kristen Rogers and her Lake Superior State University Lakers to town before facing the GLIAC’s top two teams in Northwood University and rival Michigan Tech.

NMU earned a pair of road wins this past weekend, defeating the Saginaw Valley Cardinals 62-46 Thursday, Jan. 22 in University Center, Mich. before going to Hillsdale College 57-54 Saturday, Jan. 24 at Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena in Hillsdale.

Senior guard Lauren Gruber earned the GLIAC player of the week award for her play last weekend, earning a double-double against SVSU and scoring a game-high 24 points against Hillsdale.

The Wildcats are riding a three-game win streak.

Junior forward Kendall Martenet said the team hopes to bring their energy from the road to their home court this weekend.

“We’re going to have to keep up with our defense,” Martenet said. “We’ve been holding teams to really low scores because of our defense. We’re playing a lot better, so hopefully we can win at home where we’ve been struggling, so hopefully our defense will be able to help us win some games here.”

The Wildcats will host the LSSU Lakers at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 at Berry Event Center.

It will be the first time NMU will play LSSU head coach Kristen Rogers, who spent the past three seasons as NMU’s assistant coach and helped the ’Cats win the 2014 GLIAC title.

Senior forward Abbey DeBruin said facing Rogers is another way to show the Wildcats strong defense.

“She’s going to know all our offensive game plans, so we have to come out with a strong defense,” DeBruin said. “They might zone us so we need to work on that. We have to come out with more intensity this weekend. We haven’t been doing that on our home court so just taking that and using it as motivation.”

LSSU is ranked 12 out of 16 in the GLIAC with a 3-9 conference record and 7-9 overall.

The Lakers have lost their last three games against GLIAC matches including Hillsdale College, Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University.

NMU split last years season series with LSSU. The Lakers took the win 70-57 Jan. 30 at Berry Event Center outscoring Northern 22-20 in the paint and outrebounded NMU 39-33.

The second matchup of the season, NMU traveled to Lake Superior State defeating the Lakers 52-38.

Senior guard Alyssa Colla lead the game in scoring with 16 points.

Senior guard Stephanie Fisher is leading the Lakers in scoring averaging 11.5 points per game.

NMU head coach Troy Mattson said continuing their recent defensive success will be the key to victory this weekend.

“We need to work on our offensive passing and move the ball better,” Mattson said. “We’ve only had three assists our last few games and we need to recognize what our opponents’ defenses are giving us.

“We’ve played very well on the road, and we need to play better at home by getting off to a good start and continue through the remainder of our games.”

The Wildcats will go on to face the GLIAC North Division’s third place Northwood University Timberwolves at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 at Berry Event Center.

The Timberwolves have a 8-4 conference record and 12-6 overall placing them one spot above NMU, who is fourth in the GLIAC North Division.

Senior guard Gabrielle Rivette ranks third in the conference in scoring, averaging 48.9 three-pointers per game.

Rivette averages 13.1 points per game and also ranks first in assists averaging 88 this season.

The Wildcats will finish the three-game stretch when they travel to their U.P. rival, the Michigan Tech Huskies at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2 at SDC Gym in Houghton.

Tech is leading the GLIAC with an 11-1 conference record, 15-1 overall. Junior forward Danielle Blake is leading the Huskies in points this season averaging 11.8 per game. Blake also has 29 blocks this season, the second most in the GLIAC.

Last season, the ’Cats and Huskies split the regular season series with Tech earning a 71-65 win Monday, Feb. 3 in Houghton and the Wildcats taking the regular season finale 67-59 Thursday, Feb. 27 at Berry Events Center.

The teams met up two weeks later in the GLIAC tournament at the site of Wayne State University in Detroit when the Wildcats won the tournament semi-final match 59-54 to earn a spot in the GLIAC championship game.

The Wildcats have not won in SDC gym in five years.

DeBruin said Monday’s game will be a big matchup for the ’Cats’ season.

“We have big games coming up this weekend, and (Northwood and Tech) are momentum builders we really need,” DeBruin said. “It’s always a good game with Tech and we’re looking forward to them.

“They’re at the head of our conference right now, so it’s going to be a big game for us and hopefully we can knock them off and get closer to the top spot.”