Let the games begin

Trevor Drew

While most Wildcats used the week off to relax and catch up on sleep, the Women’s Basketball team traveled down to Rensselaer, Indiana to participate in St. Joseph University’s Puma Thanksgiving Basketball Classic over the holiday weekend for their last games before conference play fires up.

re-womensbasketball1-nfThe lady ’Cats fell to the host of the tournament, the St. Joseph Pumas, on Friday in their first match-up.

Head coach Troy Mattson said that when he watched the Pumas in earlier games he was not concerned by their performance. However, Mattson added that St. Joseph had improved greatly since those games and his team was not properly prepared.

“I didn’t think we played great this weekend, especially on the defensive end,” Mattson said. “We are going to try to rectify that this week and get that fixed up so that we are ready to compete in the GLIACs.”

Northern Michigan outscored the Pumas in the first quarter, but St. Joseph made up for it the next quarter and ended the half with a 3-point lead 23-26.

The Pumas continued their rally into the second half and outscored the Wildcats 21-7 in the third quarter reinforcing their lead and bringing the score to 30-47.

The Wildcats were able to get back into their groove for the final quarter and managed to outscore St. Joseph, but the lead built up in the previous quarter was too much and the Wildcats ultimately fell 44-60. With the loss behind them, the team was able to turn it around the next day and toppled the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers.

The Rangers shot out to a 9-point lead within the first five minutes of the first quarter. The ’Cats responded and rallied 9 unanswered points. A 3-point shot from sophomore guard Tess Weatherly tied the game at the 2:08 mark, but the Rangers were able to come back and finished the quarter with a 6-point lead.

A 3-point shot by St. Joseph’s Asiah Lawson at 5:43 in the second quarter reinforced the Ranger lead and put the score at 26-15. The tables turned in favor of the Wildcats who, once again, were able to rally and put up 13 unanswered points, 9 of which came from freshman forward Erin Honkala who put up three layups.

The two teams went back and forth and the half ended with the Rangers ahead 31-30.

In the third quarter, Northern Michigan built a 45-50 lead with 1:48 remaining, but a 3-point shot from the Rangers brought the score to 48-50 going into the final frame.

The Wildcats clutched onto their lead in the final quarter and ultimately outscored the Rangers 29-19 and finished out the contest with a victory 69-81.

The ladies now look to take on the Walsh University Cavaliers for their first conference game of the season.

“Last year, at this time, we were 1-6 and this year we are 5-2. Obviously, we have a better shot right now,” sophomore guard Chloe Tompkins said. “We’re trying to keep our confidence up and continue to play like a team and work hard in practice.”

The Cavs currently stand with an overall record of 4-2 and are currently riding a 4-game win streak.

The last time these two teams squared off, Walsh took the victory over Northern at the Berry Events Center 75-64.

Mattson credited Walsh for having a formidable defense and a lot of returning veteran players. Mattson also added that he felt the Cavaliers were “the real deal.”

“[Walsh] was regionally ranked almost all of last year until late in the season,” Mattson added. “So, we’ve got to be on top of our game.”

Due to an ankle injury, senior guard Bre Gaspervich was unable to play in last year’s matchup against the Cavs but does remember them as tough opponents.

She said she was excited to take them on this season.

“Obviously we are hoping for a win to start off GLIAC play and we are all just ready to start conference play and ready to get off to a great start for the season,” Gaspervich added.

The game kicks off at the Berry Events Center at 6 p.m on Thursday, Dec. 1.