Too little, too late: Wildcat women’s comeback not enough in 66-64 loss to Ferris State

COMING+UP+SHORT%E2%80%94In+a+valiant+comeback+attempt%2C+the+Wildcats+couldnt+pull+through+in+a+two-point+defeat+to+Ferris+State.+Travis+Nelson%2FNW

COMING UP SHORT—In a valiant comeback attempt, the Wildcats couldn’t pull through in a two-point defeat to Ferris State. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson

There was no quit in the NMU Women’s Basketball team on Sunday afternoon, but their resiliency couldn’t win the game against Ferris State. After trailing by 16 points with 8:21 left in the game, the Wildcats had two possessions to take the lead with under two minutes to go. On those two possessions, the ‘Cats turned the ball over twice to go along with 22 turnovers for the game, resulting in a 66-64 loss.

The ‘close but no cigar’ come back by NMU was a story, the turnovers were a story, but to Head Coach Troy Mattson, there was a bigger factor.

“First, I’m going to credit Ferris State. They bounced back, they came and punched us in the mouth, and we didn’t respond very well,” Mattson said. “They attacked us on the offensive glass, I could tell at the start of the game that their energy level was way up and ours wasn’t matching theirs.”

It was a culmination of multiple factors that resulted in the Wildcats’ loss on Sunday after dismantling FSU the day before in a 77-61 win. Mattson pointed to the Bulldogs’ energy and how hard they played compared to NMU. Not getting a shot in those two crucial possessions hurt at the end of the game, but it was the 30-plus minutes of poor play that was the ‘Cats’ downfall.

“They defended us, they pushed us, they shoved us around. We let it happen,” Mattson said. “We didn’t attack them until late in the game, and then turnovers and rebounding were obviously real key issues; we did not do a very good job of taking care of the basketball.”

In the final 8:21 minutes of the game, NMU outscored Ferris 30-16, which usually yields a good result. However, it was the cause of the Wildcats having to dig out of a big hole instead of closing out the game for the win. Mattson was happy with his team’s energy down the stretch, including how NMU’s full court pressure caused fits for the Bulldog’s offense. There were positive takeaways from the end of the game, but the negative takeaway of not wanting to be in that position is the biggest.

“We want to put games away, we don’t want to be chasing,” Mattson said. “But our effort down the end was great. I thought we got stops on defense and made some plays on the offensive end, but it’s just a little too late.”

Mattson took the blame for the loss after “making his team soft,” he said. After Saturday’s big win, he sent a group text to the players of how proud he was. You can’t be soft when you play sports, Mattson said, and that he’ll continue to be tough on his team everyday.

The Wildcats are in good shape at 4-2, and are still a young team going through growing pains. Sophomore guard Makaylee Kuhn led the team once again in scoring with 16 points, and junior forward Emily Mueller chipped in 13. Those two have been the consistent bright spots for this team through six games, and each game, different contributors have stepped up to round out the scoring. It’s still a growing process, and everyone needs to learn from it, Mattson said.

“I’m really happy with the way a lot of people are playing, but we didn’t respond to a team that came after us today, we didn’t respond right away,” Mattson said. “We let it drag on throughout the course of the game and we weren’t able to stop them.”