Freshman set tone: Women’s Basketball starts season with win

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Nate Bellville

A dominant showing from the freshmen and sophomores last weekend had the Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team with high expectations as they routed past the Finlandia University Lions 90-35 for an exhibition victory.

Wildcats head coach Troy Mattson said that every player dressed got a chance to play in their only exhibition game this year.

“It was a good opportunity for us to get everyone involved and see how they play,” Mattson said. “We also got to give our four freshmen players an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and see what level they are at.”

After the first quarter with the Wildcats leading 14-11, the team tightened up strongly on defense and outscored the Lions 24-3 through the rest of the first half to take a 38-14 lead.

The offense would show up in the second half as the Wildcats piled on 28 points in the third quarter. Freshman guard/forward Lexi Smith was perfect in 3-point range, making three for three in the quarter.

The shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter continued to fall as fellow freshman guard Elizabeth Lutz made three of three 3-point shots of her own. Redshirt freshman guard Terese Ledy and sophomore guard Baleigh Delorit also contributed behind the arc making six of eight shots all together.

Coming off the bench, Smith and Lutz combined for almost all of Finlandia’s points with 31. NMU altogether had 68 points from the bench alone. Freshman guard Amber Huebner also added game-high five assists. All but one player recorded points on the game for the Wildcats.

The team is led by all-conference Second/Defensive team junior guard Darby Youngstrom. With no seniors listed on the team, the five junior players, guards Chloe Thompkins, Emily Schramek and forwards Taylor Hodell, Sydney Dillinger, and Tess Weatherly, will look to step up to be leaders for the team.

Mattson said that the team is already shorthanded with injuries, but are sticking together as a whole through adversity.

“Although we have four of our top six players out, we do have great depth,” Mattson said.

“But we have to go into the season fully loaded. Yet right now, we’re not fully loaded.”

Mattson also noted that Thompkins, who’s recovering from knee surgery, may not be able to play again and Hodell had a tumor removed in the offseason. He does believe the team will get sophomore forward Erin Honkala back on the court, who suffered a hamstring injury during practice.

With the team idle up to Nov. 10, when the regular season begins, Mattson added that he has big goals for them.

“I’m looking and hoping for us to be the best team in our league,” Mattson said. “We’ve still got some growing up to do, but we do have a great core group of players and I expect them to challenge for a conference championship.”

The Wildcats will face off for the first time in the regular season against the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds and the Lewis University Flyers at the GLIAC/GVC Challenge in
Indianapolis in two weeks.