A weekend split in the GLIAC/GVC tournament earned the Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team a respectable start to the season as they defeated the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds 59-53, but lost to the Lewis University Flyers 82-59.
“We had a lot of nervous people early on in the first game, that’s why we got off to some slow starts,” head coach Troy Mattson said. “Everybody in the country is playing their first game. Yet, I don’t think we handled it quite great but we ended up playing well in those games.”
Sophomore guard Baleigh Delorit said the team had a rough start in the Indianapolis game, but pulled through in the clutch.
“I thought we played really well, but kind of sluggish in the first two quarters but we picked it up well in the second half,” Delorit said.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, against the Greyhounds, both teams started slow, but close through the first two quarters. Delorit’s three-point jumper gave NMU a 22-21 lead, but the hosts took a 3-point lead going to halftime.
The second half was kept close as junior guards Tess Weatherly and Darby Youngstrom swapped shots to put the Wildcats up 33-30. However, Indianapolis quickly grabbed the lead back to 43-40.
In the final quarter, shots from guards freshman Elizabeth Lutz and junior Emily Schramek helped NMU get to within two. Sophomore forward/center Jessica Schultz took over with a 3-pointer, igniting an 11-point run to make it 57-49. Indianapolis came back to within four points but Youngstrom’s two free throws decided the game at 59-53.
“We started off rough but when the fourth quarter hit, we really played like the Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team we pictured on film,” Schultz said.
Schultz led the Wildcats in points (20) and rebounds (8). Youngstrom added in 14 points along with two assists and steals.
Schultz said that along with her having 20 points in the game, she credits her team for helping out.
“It feels nice, but a lot of girls had multiple assists and rebounds. It was definitely a team effort,” Schultz said.
The first two quarters at the Flyers was close as was the Indianapolis. The game went down to the wire in the half as freshman guard Amber Huebner put up a layup with four seconds left to give the Wildcats a 39-38 lead.
Lewis would pull away from NMU as the Flyers outscored the Wildcats 60-50 in the second half 44-20 to seal the game at 82-59.
Youngstrom led the Wildcats with 14 points and two assists. Freshman Erin Honkala also pitched in nine points.
“I didn’t feel comfortable coming into Sunday against Lewis. With having little preparation time and them having a new coach, we didn’t handle the situation quite properly from all angles,” Mattson said.
As Thanksgiving break begins this weekend, the team will be on road games all through Thanksgiving weekend. Mattson added that the team will spend the holiday season as a family themselves.
“We’re pretty much on our own for the next three weeks and probably up to Christmas, but we will handle this appropriately,” Mattson said.
Delorit said they have a schedule showing how they’ll handle their holiday plans.
“We usually stop and have Thanksgiving dinner at one of our teammate’s houses down at her hometown, so it really works out for us,” Delorit said.
The Wildcats’ next three games are in Minnesota starting Thursday at the Concordia-St.Paul University Golden Bears, followed by at University of Minnesota-Clarkston Golden Eagles Saturday and at Minnesota State University-Moorhead Dragons on Sunday.
“We’re not completely healthy, but rest along with understanding our game plan, and light preparation on the court will be our protocol and we’re going to handle our business properly,” Mattson said.