The Northern Michigan Women’s Basketball team hosted U.P. rival the Michigan Technological University (MTU) Huskies this past Saturday. Despite a late comeback attempt, the Wildcats fell short in a 55-53 defeat.
In Saturday’s contest, sophomore forward Lexi Smith led the Wildcat offense with 12 points. Sophomore guard Elizabeth Lutz added 11 points while junior center Jessica Schultz, senior guard Darby Youngstrom and senior guard Sydney Dillinger posted four rebounds each.
The Wildcats fall to 14-5 on the season and 9-2 in the GLIAC while Tech improves to 12-7 overall and 8-3 in the GLIAC.
The Wildcats failed to convert on nine layups and seven free throws.
“We played hard but we have tendencies at times to not finish plays,” head coach Troy Mattson said. “[Michigan Tech] made some shots and we didn’t.”
Michigan Tech started the game strong and halfway through the first quarter, NMU trailed 11-3. With 2:22 remaining in the opening frame the Wildcats cut the MTU lead to 11-8. The Huskies outscored the ’Cats 5-1 to send the game into the second quarter with NMU behind 16-9.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Tech extended their lead to 23-11. After a 9-4 run, MTU took 31-15 advantage with 3:05 to play in the half. The teams entered the break with the Huskies leading 34-21.
NMU opened the second half with four unanswered points making it a 34-25 game. Tech went on an 8-2 run increasing their lead to 42-27 with a minute to play in the quarter. The Wildcats entered the final frame down 42-28.
The Huskies started the fourth quarter by extending their lead to 46-28. With five minutes left in the game, the Wildcats cut the deficit to 46-39 fueled by an 11-point run. With 2:12 on the clock, the score was 48-43. The teams traded baskets and with 41 seconds to play it was a 50-45 game in favor of MTU. After a 3-pointer, NMU made it a one-point game, 54-53 with 14 seconds to play. Tech added a free throw with two seconds to go. The Wildcats put up a last-second shot attempt to tie the game but failed to convert as Michigan Tech claimed a 55-53 win.
Despite staying in first place after the loss, NMU players were visibly frustrated with Saturday’s result.
“They were disappointed we got beat. I expect us to bounce back,” Mattson said.
The Wildcats travel for a pair of road contents, first up playing the University of Wisconsin-Parkside at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, then continue to visit Purdue-Northwest for a 4 p.m. tipoff on Saturday, Feb. 2. The players and coaches know this game will not be as lopsided as the 72-39 NMU victory back in December.
“I’ve been worried about this game and it will be a real challenge for us, Mattson said. “I told my team yesterday that the score last time is not Indicative of who Parkside really is.”