Women’s Basketball team hunts for high playoff seed

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Trevor Drew

The Women’s Basketball team clinched a spot in this year’s GLIAC tournament after falling to Saginaw Valley State and claiming a victory over Wayne State in their last weekend of home games in the regular season.

“We played well enough to win two games, unfortunately we missed some free throws and a couple layups coming down the stretch against Saginaw Valley,” head coach Troy Mattson said.

The team’s last four losses were all determined in the final plays of the game. Although the team has been defensively sound, they need to nail their shots from the charity stripe and avoid turnovers, Mattson said.

“I’m not disappointed in the way we are playing, but it’s disappointing to lose close games,” Mattson added.

In a match-up that featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, the Wildcats battled to snap Saginaw Valley’s 5-game win streak but ultimately failed to overcome the North leading Cardinals and lost 62-60. A 3-point shot from SVSU’s Halee Nieman gave the Cardinals a 60-52 advantage with 4:59 left in regulation. A layup from freshman forward Erin Honkala followed by sophomore guard Tess Weatherly draining a 3-point shot brought the game back within reach for the ’Cats, the score at 60-57 with less than four minutes on the clock.

A layup from sophomore guard Darby Youngstrom brought the lead back into reach, at 61-59, with 1:01 left on the clock. Senior guard Bre Gaspervich went to the free-throw line with two seconds remaining, but ultimately only sank one.

Cardinal Katelyn Carriere put the final nail in the coffin by making one of her two shots from the charity stripe in the final second of the competition.

With the tight loss behind them, the team claimed their 11th GLIAC win in their final regulation home game of the season against the Wayne State Warriors.

The Wildcats outscored their downstate opponent in the first half but really turned on the heat in the third quarter.

The Warriors pulled within four points, at 44-40, with 7:16 on the clock, Northern Michigan responded with an 8-4 run to take a 52-44 advantage by the 4:42 mark. The team put up 10 points to close out the quarter establishing a 64-47 lead going into the final frame.

At the 4:31 mark of the final frame, a Youngstrom 3-point shot gave Northern Michigan its largest lead of the game, a 74-51 edge. The squad ultimately walked away with a 79-60 victory.

With only three games remaining in the regulation season and a guaranteed position in the 2017 GLIAC tournament, the remaining games will determine what seed out of eight the Wildcats will be placed in.

Although the team has already secured a spot, Youngstrom explained that a victory over both Ferris State and Grand Valley on the road could place the Wildcats in a high seed so their games over the weekend are not a blow-off.

“Ferris always comes out very tough,” Youngstrom said. “They are just very aggressive so we have to come out and match their aggressiveness or be more aggressive.”

The last time the Wildcats faced off against the Lakers, Grand Valley edged Northern 56-53, another game determined in the last plays.

“We are hoping for another good game [against GVSU] and to come up on the winning side,” Youngstrom said. “They always play really well in that gym so that’s going to be another obstacle for us but I’m confident going in that we can take them.”

The Wildcats hit the road this week to face Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University.