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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Road to repeat begins at Grand Valley for ‘Cats

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The GLIAC women’s basketball tournament is set to begin this week, with the defending champion NMU Wildcats beginning their run to defend their title on the road against the Grand Valley State University Lakers at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 in Allendale, Mich.

“We’ve had a very good year despite some big injuries,” NMU head coach Troy Mattson said. “We’re going into this tournament a very good basketball team. I know teams don’t want to play us. We’ve been playing great the last three weeks, and I have no reason to believe we won’t continue to play great.”

The first two meetings between NMU and the Grand Valley Lakers did not go in the Wildcats’ favor, with the Lakers earning a 68-61 win on the ’Cats’ home court Thursday, Jan. 15 before completing the regular season sweep with a 62-58 win over NMU Thursday, Feb. 5 in Allendale, Mich. The two games are what separated the clubs in the end, giving the Lakers a 16-6 GLIAC record earning the fourth seed in the conference. The Wildcats fell one game behind the Lakers with a 15-7 record finishing fifth in the conference, sending the Wildcats to Allendale for the first round of the playoffs.

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However, after falling to the Michigan Tech Huskies 63-50 on senior night in their final home game, dropping their home record to 7-5 while 10-4 on the road, NMU head coach Troy Mattson said some time away from Berry Events Center might not be the worst thing for the ’Cats.

“We’ve played better on the road, even with four of our five home losses being against top teams in the country,” Mattson said. “There’s no shame in that, but it would be nice to get a couple of more wins at home. We’ve played better on the road, and we get more practice time on the road with three practices instead of maybe two at home.”

Senior guard Alyssa Colla scored 22 points with 10 rebounds for a double-double in her final home game as a Wildcat, leading the match in points.

For six Wildcat seniors, including Colla, senior guards Lauren Gruber and Sarah Miller, forwards Abbey  DeBruin and Brooke Coenen and center Courtney Lemon, Thursday’s defeat was their final home game in a Wildcat uniform at Berry Events Center.

Gruber said she and her teammates will miss the Wildcat fanbase the most after graduation.

“Every night you always see the same people coming out to the games to support us,” Gruber said. “We’re really going to miss those relationships you build with the community and our teammates, and it’s going to be sad to leave behind.”

DeBruin and senior guard Gruber each notched 10 points in the loss.

“We were rested and ready to go, Tech just played good,” Mattson said. “We didn’t get any momentum on a defensive stop, and we couldn’t get our offense going on a consistent basis, and all that is credited to Tech. They are a bad matchup with us right now. We’ll try to figure something out, and we’re going to need to play better if we play them again.”

Tech completed their regular season series sweep over the Wildcats with the win, but NMU still has the opportunity to meet the Huskies in the GLIAC tournament as well as the NCAA regionals, but in order to do so they will need a win over Grand Valley on Wednesday.

After the conference tournaments this week, eight teams will make the NCAA tournament from the Midwest Region, with only the conference champions guaranteed a spot in the dance. However, Grand Valley currently ranks eighth in the region, while NMU sits in ninth, giving the winner of Wednesday’s game the upper hand in making the NCAA tournament.

Mattson said their matchup with Grand Valley has much greater implications riding with it than their matchup with the Huskies did.

“We played really well the last three weeks, and we will play really well on Wednesday,” Mattson said. “Even though this was a a big game against Michigan Tech, the biggest game of the year for us is on Wednesday. We are ninth in the region, going up against the eighth team in the region. No matter what was going to happen to us [against Tech], the biggest game of the year for us is Wednesday against Grand Valley. That’s who we want to play.”

Prior to NMU’s loss on Thursday, the Wildcats had won five straight games, with their last loss at the hands of the Lakers Feb. 5.

In the ’Cats most recent matchup with the Lakers in Allendale, Colla once again led the game in scoring with 22 points, with the Wildcats earning a 46.8 shooting percentage compared to the Lakers’ 42.9 shooting percentage. The ’Cats also outrebounded the Lakers 29-28, but the Wildcats’ 16 turnovers stacked up against Grand Valley’s 11 turnovers, along with the Lakers’ 16 bench points opposed to the ’Cats two bench points stacked up in Grand Valley’s favor.

NMU trailed the Lakers 56-47 with 4:41 remaining in the game before a six-point Wildcat run cut the Lakers’ lead down to a one-possession game, but Grand Valley was perfect from the free throw line in the final minute going 4-4 to hand the Wildcats the loss. However, the four-point drop was the ’Cats closest margin of defeat in a road loss this season.

Grand Valley’s junior guard Brionna Barnett is GVSU’s offensive leader, averaging 15.3 points per game while sophomore forward Piper Tucker averages 5.8 rebounds per game.

The Lakers have only lost at home once this season, and clinched home-court advantage in the first round with the Wildcats’ loss to the Huskies.

Colla said the ’Cats have had their sights on higher accomplishments than beating Tech this season.

“Obviously it’s disappointing and sad losing in our last game at home, but we’re not done yet,” Colla said. “We’re going to go to Grand Valley and I think we can beat them and win the conference tournament. We play better on the road, so we just have to get healthy, regroup and come ready to play.”

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