Women’s basketball runs out of gas in loss to Michigan Tech


TIRED LEGS—NMU center Ana Rhude goes up for the jumper during the Wildcats’ 68-49 loss to Michigan Tech on Monday, Jan. 31. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

Fresh off of a high-scoring battle with Northwood on Saturday, the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team looked like a team with only one day of rest in a 68-49 defeat to rival Michigan Tech on Monday evening. The loss also marks 11 in a row for the Wildcats with the rivalry dating back to 2017.

The ‘Cats (8-9, 3-7 GLIAC) struggled shooting the ball, only going 30.4% from the field for the game (17-56). Michigan Tech (12-6, 7-3 GLIAC) shot only five more shots than NMU, and made nine more, shooting 42.6% from the field and 40% at the 3-point line. Northern didn’t have a good shooting performance, but that’s what a team can look like after battling for 40 minutes in a frenzied pace game two days ago.

“I knew we would be tired going into this game, we put a lot of effort and energy into Saturday’s game,” NMU coach Troy Mattson said. “I was really concerned about how much energy we would have, and we looked physically tired because your shots don’t go when you’re not maxed out, and we were mentally tired.”

Despite this, NMU was in the game early. Four different Wildcats had scored in the eight minutes of the game, and a bucket by guard Elizabeth Lutz tied the score at 9-9 with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter. In a stretch where the Wildcats controlled the game and had chances to increase the lead, but bad shot selection got in the way, Mattson said. MTU capitalized with a lay-up from guard Clara Johnson and a 3-pointer from guard Alex Rondorf to take a 14-9 lead at the quarter’s end.

Once Lutz tied the game up 9-9, MTU went on a 16-2 and jumped out to a 25-11 advantage over the next 7:29 capped off by a 3-pointer from guard Daisy Ansel. The final five minutes of the second quarter were even in scoring, but Tech was in control with a 32-18 halftime lead. Both teams shot 11 3-pointers in the first half, the Huskies made five of theirs, while the Wildcats only made one. 

“We weren’t able to react for a large amount of time and just all blew up and fell apart on us when you can’t make a shot,” Mattson said.

The game wasn’t over quite yet, as NMU got contributions from guards Mackenzie Holzwart and Kayla Tierney to cut Tech’s lead to 36-25. Every time the ‘Cats looked to make a comeback, the Huskies had an answer to thwart it. This time it was guard Katelyn Meister who took the wind out of Northern’s sails with a deep 3-pointer to put Tech back up 14. The Wildcats’ offense picked up in the second half, but couldn’t get key stops in the third quarter to keep the game within reach. Holzwart scored again to make it 43-30, but Michigan Tech finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 21-point lead. Guards Isabella Lenz and Ellie Mackay were too much for NMU in the period.

Guard Madigan Johns had a solid fourth quarter for the Wildcats, scoring eight points. NMU also outscored Tech 17-15 in the period, but it was too late. 

Michigan Tech had four players in double figures, led by 13 points from Lenz. Mackay finished with 12, Ansel had 11 and Meister had 10. Guard Makaylee Kuhn was the Wildcats’ leading scorer with 10, with Lutz and Johns both having eight.

“They’re a bad match-up to be honest with you because they spread you out and they’ve got five girls who can shoot,” Mattson said. “They don’t really have a post presence in there even though they score around the basket, they do a good job of that. But they’re a mature team, they pass the ball extremely well and they have the capability to make shots, and they did both.”