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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Women ’hoopers slide into first place in GLIAC

NMU+players+on+the+bench+jump+up+in+excitement+after+converting+a+key+basket+against+Davenport+University.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+NMU+Athletics
NMU players on the bench jump up in excitement after converting a key basket against Davenport University. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics

The Northern Michigan University Women’s Basketball team swept a pair of home games this past weekend. A strong second half in Thursday’s game against the Davenport University (DU) Panthers propelled the Wildcats to a 69-61 victory. The ’Cats then defeated the No. 9 nationally ranked Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Lakers Saturday 56-43 to move into a tie for first place in the GLIAC.

In Thursday’s game, sophomore guard Lexi Smith led NMU with 16 points and contributed nine rebounds. Junior center Jessica Schultz added 15 points while senior guards Sydney Dillinger and Tess Weatherly both made four three-pointers for 12 points each. Senior guard Darby Youngstrom dished out a career-high of eight assists and notched a team-best of 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats took an 8-3 lead before Davenport opened up the scoring to jump ahead 12-10 with a minute to go in the first quarter. DU extended their lead before the end of the first period and Northern trailed 16-12 entering the second quarter.

The Panthers pushed their lead to 21-14 early in the second quarter. With under two minutes to play in the half, the Panther’s offense opened up and took the largest lead of the game, 32-21. The Wildcats entered halftime with a 32-23 deficit.

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To start the second half DU scored six unanswered points to build their lead to 15 points. NMU went on a clawed back before embarking on a 10-0 run, making it a two-point game, 43-41 with 3:34 left to play in the third quarter. The teams entered the fourth quarter with DU leading NMU 48-45.

The Wildcats made two three-pointers to open the final quarter to take the lead 51-48. With six minutes remaining, NMU had a 56-51 lead. The Panthers cut Northern’s lead to three, 61-57 with 2:16 remaining. NMU outscored DU 8-4 in the final minutes sealing the victory 69-61.
Head coach Troy Mattson acknowledged the hard work the team put in to overcome their slow first-half start.

“The girls responded extremely well in the second half after making some adjustment defensively and some people had to step up and make some plays offensively, which we didn’t do in the first half,” Mattson said. “Tess goes four-for-four from the three-point line and Darby has eight assists in the game and that’s part of toughness.”

The impressive second half showed the team what they can overcome.

“The comeback really showed that our team has some heart and toughness,” Youngstrom said.

The Wildcats entered Satu-rday’s game facing the top-ranked team in the GLIAC, GVSU.

NMU shut down the Laker offense allowing only 43 total points and 15.4 percent shooting from behind the three-point line and 35.4 percent from the field. Smith led the ’Cats with 21 points.

“We had the confidence going into the game that we knew we could win,” Youngstrom said.

Five minutes in the game, NMU had an 8-4 lead. Northern closed out the quarter on a 5-0 run and took a 13-8 lead in the second frame.

The Wildcat lead was 19-12 minutes into the second quarter. NMU went on a 10-2 run and with less than a minute left in the half, the Northern lead was 29-14. GVSU answered with a five-point run sending Northern into the break with a 29-19 advantage.

Three minutes into the second half the Lakers cut the lead to 31-26. The Wildcats followed with a 10-0 run extending their lead to 41-26. Northern ended the third quarter with four points to take a 45-30 lead in the final quarter.

GVSU managed to cut the lead down to 49-40 halfway through the quarter. The Wildcats were able to weather the Lakers storm in the final minutes and hold their heads high with a 56-43 win.

From the very beginning of the game, NMU’s defense was able to set the tone and facilitate and drive their play-style throughout the game.

“I’m really proud of how we were able to handle ourselves throughout the game,” Mattson said. “They made a couple of small runs at us and we were able to hold them off and make some big plays and, again, that’s all showing our maturity and toughness, we’re starting to take form and we’ve got a ways to go but at least it’s going in the right direction.”

NMU looks to extend their winning streak to five games next week as they host rival Michigan Technological University. The Huskies are two games behind NMU for first place in the GLIAC North standings with a record of 7-3 in conference, 11-7 overall, coming off a victory against DU.

“[This is a] huge rival game. We get their best, they get our best,” said Youngstrom. “[It’s] always a good crowd both here and there and it’s something that we look forward to every year.”

Saturday’s game will feature a White Out theme with all fans encouraged to wear white in support of the Wildcats. The first 50 students to meet Wildcat Willy and sit courtside will receive a free “Beat Tech” white shirt. The first 250 fans will receive a free Rally Towel upon entry to the Berry Events Center.

Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.

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