As students return to campus for the winter semester, the Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team began their five conference road game stretch with a 79-63 win over the Lake Superior State University Lakers and a 62-52 loss to the Ferris State University Bulldogs.
Wildcats head coach Troy Matt- son said while the team going through adversity, they managed to earn solid results.
“There’s a difference of being ready to play and not being ready to play,” Mattson said. “Yet I thought in both games, we played some solid basketball all around.”
Junior center Taylor Hodell said that both games were physical matchups.
“There were some scrappy teams,” Hodell said. “We had to be very tough against them both with no mental breakdowns on any plays.”
At Lake Superior State, the start saw the Wildcats sprint out to a 25-point first quarter. The Lakers managed to cut NMU’s lead down to eight, but the Wildcats went on a 13-9 run to close the second quarter.
NMU’s aggressive offense continued into the third quarter, as the Wildcats raced out to another double-digit run (13-2). NMU continued to hold a healthy lead for the rest of the game with efficient free throw shooting (83 percent) and defense on route to a 79-63 victory.
The Wildcats controlled the glass and the paint against the struggling Lakers, as NMU outrebounded LSSU 32-25, leading to 13 second- chance Wildcat points.
Eleven of the team’s rebounds were recorded to sophomore forward Erin Honkala, scoring 16 points, on top of earning her her third double-double of the season. Junior center Jessica Schultz also shot a career-high 22 points in the contest.
“It was awesome how we moved around the ball and got some de- cent shots that we were able to make,” Hodell said.
At Ferris State, NMU offense started off cold in the first half. Falling behind 14-4 after the first quarter, the Wildcats trimmed FSU’s lead to six, but NMU turnovers and a five-point run helped FSU go into halftime 19-13.
NMU kept the game neck-and- neck in the second half. After sophomore guard Emily Schramek’s three-pointer, both teams continued to swap baskets as NMU pulled within eight. The Wildcats were unable to come back in the final frame, as the Bulldogs held on for the win.
“We were having our shots, but they just weren’t going in. I also thought the ball wasn’t going to the right people that were more open,” junior guard Sydney Dillinger said.
Coming off the bench, Hodell led NMU with 17 points with Schramek following with ten.
With the season over halfway and a crucial tournament spot at stake, Mattson is urgent and eager to beat their next two opponents (Davenport and Wayne State).
“We got a big weekend ahead with these two good teams right in front of us,” Mattson said. “We could sit on the fourth spot think- ing we could get home-court advantage since we are one game behind in the standings.”
Dillinger said that the team will correct anything that is needed of improving for this weekend.
“We just need to come together and fix any errors on the offense and defensive sides and we should earn some more wins,” Dillinger said.
The Wildcats continue their road trip at the Davenport University Panthers in Caledonia Thursday and at the Wayne State University Warriors in Detroit Saturday.
“If we’re ready and we come out with a mindset that we’re going to play the right way all night long and understand the urgency of everything around us, we’ll be fine,” Mattson said.