Women’s basketball team hosts crucial homestand

Lauren Lee

After splitting a road series last weekend against Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University, the women’s basketball team will return home this weekend for another pair of GLIAC sets with the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals and Hillsdale College Chargers.
Senior guard Lauren Gruber said with the GLIAC standings make the ’Cats final stretch of conference games even more crucial.
“This last GLIAC stretch means more now than it ever has,” Gruber said. “Last year, we were in a similar position standing-wise and we pushed through with a great stretch of wins to end the season. I’m definitely hoping for the same thing this year as my final season dwindles down. I just want the team to perform as well as I know we can.”
The Wildcats fell short to Grand Valley 62-58 Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale, Mich. NMU had a total of 16 turnovers against the Lakers but shot 22-47 from the field and 7-17 from beyond the arc. The ’Cats trailed by seven points at the end of the first half, but were able to cut the deficit down to 48-44 with 9:24 left in the game. Despite senior guard Alyssa Colla and sophomore guard Bre Gaspervich each reaching double digit figures, the ’Cats weren’t able to complete the comeback.
NMU defeated the Ferris State University Bulldogs in overtime 79-74 Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
Colla said the ’Cats’ in-game adjustments led to the comeback win.
“We changed our offensive game plan in the second half,” Colla said. “We were taking it making it hard on ourselves in the first half. Had more movement, more cutters and opened it up against their tough and intense zone defense.”
NMU came back from a 16 point deficit and scored four points in the final eight seconds of the game to force FSU into overtime. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 17-12 in overtime to earn the five point win.
Gruber led the team in scoring in the win with 27 points, and also scored her thousandth point as a Wildcat in the win. Gruber is the 23rd women’s basketball player to join the NMU 1,000 point club which includes teammate Colla.
Gruber said breaking 1,000 points with NMU reflects the Wildcats’ great strength.
“I love to represent my team in the best way possible,” Gruber said. “I am really proud to score over 1,000 points and I know I couldn’t have accomplished this without the great teammates that I have.”
The Wildcats will face the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 at Berry Events Center.
Earlier this season NMU defeated the SVSU 62-46 at the Cardinals home court James E. O’Neill Jr. Arena in Saginaw, Mich.
The ’Cats earned the win scoring 36 points in the second half with Gruber earning a double-double against the Cardinals scoring 17 points and gaining 10 rebounds. Colla led the team scoring 21 points and the team finished the game shooting 23-57 from the field as they outscored SVSU 16-4 in points off turnovers.
SVSU is last out of eight teams in the GLIAC North Division with a 2-15 conference record, 7-16 overall while NMU is in third place with an 11-6 conference record, 13-8 overall.
Colla is second in the GLIAC in scoring averaging 18.6 points per game.
SVSU sophomore forward Emily Wendling leads the Cardinals averaging 16.1 points per game and places two spots below Colla in fourth. Wendling is also ranked third in rebounds averaging 9.6 per game.
NMU head coach Troy Mattson said the ’Cats hope to show up with the same motivation they did the last time they played SVSU.
“Hopefully we can match that intensity again,” Mattson said. “Defensively we played really well, but we’re still turning the ball over too much early in games which affects your offensive output, so we need to clean that up.”
NMU will go on to face the Hillsdale Chargers at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 at Berry Events Center.
The Wildcats defeated the Chargers 57-54 Saturday, Jan. 24 at Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena in Hillsdale Mich.
The Chargers out-rebounded the ’Cats 34-28 in the match, but NMU outscored Hillsdale 24-18 from the paint.
Senior forward Megan Fogt is averaging 13.6 points per game for the Chargers.
Hillsdale is ranked third in the GLIAC North Division with an 11-6 record, 15-6 overall. The Chargers are one spot ahead of the fourth place Wildcats, who have an identical record to Hillsdale and can pass the Chargers with wins over both Saginaw Valley and Hillsdale this weekend.
Colla said with Hillsdale fighting for the same placement as NMU the team has to be ready to go.
“There’s about three to four teams all fighting for position with us so each game is crucial, and Hillsdale is one of them,” Colla said. “The last game with them came down to the very end where we were able to just make a couple more plays than they were and hit our free throws down the stretch. It was a very rough game with lots of contact last matchup and I’m assuming it will be the same.”