Room for improvement following tourney

Room+for+improvement+following+tourney

Levi Erkkila

The Northern Michigan University Women’s Basketball team traveled to St. Paul Minnesota this past weekend to participate in the Radisson Hotel Classic.

In a close game with the Concordia-St. Paul (CPS) Golden Bears the Wildcats fell 63-61, Friday then NMU beat the University of Jamestown (UJ) Jimmies 54-45 Saturday. The Wildcats had entered the weekend on a two-game winning streak.

The Wildcats jumped out in front in the first quarter of Friday’s game against CPS, grabbing an 11-3 advantage with just over four minutes to play in the first quarter. The NMU defense led the Wildcats to a 19-9 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Golden Bears started the second quarter on a 10-6 run making it a 25-19 game at the media timeout. CPS scored five unanswered points to close out the half and the teams went into the break with the Wildcats on top 32-31.

Back and forth scoring was the story in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets and small leads, then with 5:18 remaining in the quarter, the Golden Bears took their largest lead of the game 46-44. NMU failed to reduce the lead before the end of the quarter and CPS took a 52-49 lead into the fourth quarter.

The teams continued trading baskets in the fourth quarter, with the score even at 56-56 with 4:52 remaining in the match.

The Golden Bears scored five unanswered points to take a 61-56 lead deep into the fourth quarter. Senior center Taylor Hodell made it a two-point game, 63-61 with under a minute to play, but the ’Cats were unable to tie the game in the remaining seconds.

Hodell led the Wildcats with 16 points and also finished with six rebounds. Sophomore guard Lexi Smith added 11 points and a team-high of seven rebounds.

Junior forward Erin Honkala chipped in with eight points and senior guard Darby Youngstrom led the team with four assists. Junior center Jessica Schultz posted three blocked shots in the game.

NMU started the game Saturday on a 10-2 run, giving them an eight-point lead half-way through the first quarter. The Jimmies finished the quarter outscoring the Wildcats 5-1, sending NMU into the break holding onto a four-point lead, 11-7.

The teams traded a pair of 3-pointers making the score 17-13 with 7:11 left in the opening half. The NMU defense did not allow another Jamestown point for the rest of the second quarter and the Wildcats built a 24-13 first-half lead.

Northern kept the lead above ten points for the entirety of the third quarter. A five-point NMU run in the final minutes of the quarter extended their lead to 16. Jamestown made a basket with 20 seconds to go as the quarter ended with NMU leading 36-22.

In the fourth quarter, NMU increased their advantage to 20, 48-28 with 4:33 left in the game. Over the next three minutes, the Jimmies went on a 14-0 run cutting the NMU lead to six, 48-42. The Wildcats finished the game on a 6-3 run stopping the Jamestown comeback and recording the 54-45 victory.

Schultz led the way with 14 points and eight rebounds. Smith added 10 points while freshman forward Emily Mueller posted eight points and had seven rebounds. Youngstrom contributed seven points.

The Wildcats built their lead with strong defense, holding the Jamestown offense to just 23.9 percent shooting from the field and 26.2 percent from the three-point line.

The Jimmies shot 16-67 from the field and went 11-42 from behind the arc.

NMU was 20-27 from the free throw line while they only allowed Jamestown only four shots from the line.

The Wildcats are 5-2 on the season and will start GLIAC action on the road against Northwood University at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, then against Saginaw Valley State University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.