The Northern Michigan University Women’s Basketball team secured a spot in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament with its third straight win with a 69-60 victory over Ferris State at the Berry Events Center last Saturday.
The Wildcats also defeated Lake Superior State last Thursday 60-56, and are now 13-13 on the season, with a 9-9 mark in GLIAC play.
NMU currently holds sixth place in the GLIAC standings as the team looks ahead to its final two regular season games this weekend, hosting Davenport on Thursday night before a contest with Wayne State for senior day on Saturday.
NMU head coach Troy Mattson said he’s enjoying the three-game winning streak his team has given him, and that they’re playing well at the right time.
“We’ve got three wins in a row, and all three of those teams are fighting to get into the conference tournament,” Mattson said. “We were able to hold them off and I thought we were able to play extremely well in the third and fourth quarters and move the basketball. We’re moving the basketball great right now and people are making shots.”
“People need to make shots which we’ve been struggling with all year, but lately we’ve been able to put enough in the basket and get some success out of it.”
Mattson added he’s relieved to have a postseason berth locked up before the final two games of the regular season.
“It feels good because the last few games we’ve had to earn that spot,” he said. “I think we’re playing fairly well for the people we’ve got out on the court, and we’ve just got to keep fighting and plugging along and hopefully we continue to get better here in the next week so no matter who we play we can give them the best game we can possibly give.”
In Thursday’s contest against the Lakers, the Wildcats controlled the first two quarters, jumping out to a 34-27 lead at the half. It wasn’t until the third quarter that LSSU came alive, outscoring NMU 24-12 to go up 51-46 entering the final frame. The Wildcat’s defense toughened up in the fourth, holding the Lakers to just five points to NMU’s 14, securing a four-point victory. NMU took the lead back 56-55 on a layup from freshman guard Elizabeth Lutz with 5:10 to play and held on from there.
Lutz led the Wildcats in the contest with 19 points while junior center Taylor Hodell added 11 points, four rebounds and one assist.
Saturday’s game against Ferris was another hard-fought battle, with the Wildcats holding just a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs trimmed that down to two points at the half as NMU held a 32-30 lead at the break. The two sides kept it close in the third, with a tie score at 47-47 going into the fourth. That’s when the Wildcats used 22 fourth-quarter points to pull away for the nine-point victory.
Freshman forward Lexi Smith led the ’Cats with 17 points while Lutz added 14 and two assists. Hodell scored 11 off the bench while also contributing sixteen minutes and collecting two rebounds and three assists.
NMU now looks ahead to a Davenport (DU) squad holding onto the eighth and final GLIAC Tournament spot with a conference record of 6-12. Tiffin University is just one game behind the Panthers with two game to play.
Mattson commented on the DU contest and said they’re similar to the same Panthers team they saw in January.
“We just have to watch the film,” he said. “They’re running the same stuff, and they do like the zone a lot so we’re expecting the 2-3 zone and man-to-man. It’s actually not a bad matchup game for us. I think we can defend them enough to keep the game in check and hopefully we can play well enough to pull out a win.”
The Wildcats took the first game of the season back on Jan. 22 by a score of 67-55 in Grand Rapids.
Wayne State comes to the Berry Events Center fourth place in the standings with a 13-5 conference mark. On Jan. 20, the Warriors defeated NMU 64-50 on the WSU campus on Jan. 20.
Tip-off at the Berry Events Center is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.