Season finishes with a soft thud


Levi Erkkila

The Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team traveled to Allendale Wednesday, Feb. 28 to take on the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Lakers in the GLIAC quarterfinals. The Wildcats lost the game 58-40, ending an exciting season of NMU basketball.

Both teams came out of the gate slowly, with neither squad able to score until over two minutes in when junior center Taylor Hodell scored the first points of the game to put NMU up 2-0. The Lakers countered with a 10-0 run to take the lead to 10-2, five minutes into the game. Hodell hit a layup to end the Laker run with 4:56 to play, then freshman guard Lexi Smith narrowed the gap with a three-point play, cutting the lead to 10-7 at the 4:16 mark. GVSU responded with a three-pointer, then Smith followed up with a jump shot in the final minute to make the score 13-9 after 10 minutes.

To start the second quarter, Grand Valley put five quick points on the board. Sophomore forward Erin Honkala answered with four-straight points of her own to make it 18-13 less than two minutes into the quarter. The Lakers rattled off another five-point run. Sophomore forward Jessica Schultz got one point back, however, GVSU responded with a basket, taking a nine-point lead, 25-14. Junior guard Emily Schramek hit a jumper, then followed a Laker three-pointer with her own three, bringing the score to 28-19 with five minutes remaining in the half. Both teams traded baskets before Grand Valley State ended the half with a jumper, taking a 33-21 lead into the break.

The third quarter started much quicker than the first half. Seconds in, the Lakers made a basket which was answered with a Smith layup. GVSU hit a three to build up a 38-23 lead less than a minute in. NMU responded with layups from Smith and Hodell, to cut into the deficit at the 5:57 mark. Smith sank two free throws and added a basket to answer two Grand Valley baskets. With the score at 42-31, Schultz cut the lead to single digits, then GVSU tacked on a free throw. A Schramek basket brought it to an eight-point game, 43-35, with 34 seconds left in the quarter. The Lakers sank a three in the final moment’s of the quarter, with the score 46-35 in favor of Grand Valley.

GVSU sank another shot to start the final quarter, then answered a Smith basket with a three-pointer to make it 51-37. Smith managed to narrow the gap to 51-39 with a jumper 2:58 into the fourth. NMU was unable to score until Honkala made a free throw with 17 seconds left, which wasn’t enough as the Wildcats fell to the Lakers 58-40.

Smith led the Wildcats with 17 points, with Schramek and Honkala adding seven points each. Schramek grabbed six rebounds while Honkala had two steals and a block.

Smith was named the GLIAC Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the All-GLIAC Second Team. Smith led the Wildcats in scoring this season, averaging 12.6 points per game and grabbed an average of 4.5 rebounds per outing. She scored double figures 19 times and scored over 20 points three times, with her season high 29 points coming in a Dec. 9 game against Grand Valley.

The Wildcats finished the year with an overall record of 15-14 and a conference record of 11-9. Northern recorded a 7-4 record at home while going 8-9 on the road this year with one loss at a neutral site.