Makaylee Kuhn’s 28 points guides Women’s basketball to win over Wisconsin-Parkside


‘CATS PULL THE UPSET—NMU sophomore guard Makaylee Kuhn drives to the rim during the Wildcats’ 62-56 win over Wisconsin-Parkside. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

Playing their third game in four days and the fourth game in a week, sophomore guard Makaylee Kuhn put the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team on her back with 28 points, 13 rebounds and four assists and led them to a 62-56 victory over red-hot Wisconsin-Parkside on Sunday afternoon to keep GLIAC Tournament hopes alive.

To say that NMU (10-14, 5-12 GLIAC) struggled in this past weekend’s first two games is an understatement. The Wildcats averaged 43 points per game in losses to Wayne State on Thursday and to Saginaw Valley State on Saturday. Sunday wasn’t going to be any easier facing off with Wisconsin-Parkside (15-12, 12-7 GLIAC), the Rangers entered the match-up with an eight-game winning streak and hadn’t lost since January 27.

Northern scored over 60 points for the first time since a 78-75 loss to Northwood on Saturday, Jan. 29, and a big part of that was Kuhn tying her season-high with 28 points. In the two losses on Thursday and Saturday, Kuhn combined for 15 points. On Sunday, Kuhn made 13 field goals, compared to the six she made in the first two games.

Parkside shot better from the field as a team, but NMU had 12 more shots for the game thanks to 10 offensive rebounds compared to Parkside’s two. Combining Kuhn’s play and a couple of big 3-pointers from senior guard Elizabeth Lutz in her final home game, NMU was able to make clutch plays on their home court to seal the deal.

“Things happened when they needed to, Makaylee took over the game when she had to,” NMU coach Troy Mattson said. “When they started to double in hard on her, she kicked it out and we hadn’t shot the ball very well all weekend, and finally Liz Lutz came up with two huge 3’s to catapult us.”

Kuhn had eight points in each of the first two quarters for a total of 16 of NMU’s 27 halftime points. Parkside senior guard Courtney Schoenbeck knocked down 3 3-pointers in the first half for nine points, her season high for a full game was nine points going into the game. 

“She’s just a special player, there’s not going to be too many that come around like that too often,” Mattson said. “Makaylee stepped up big tonight, she was awesome and she was real patient. She didn’t play real well early I thought, she missed some shots, but she was extremely patient throughout the game and when the game time came, she took it over. She made the right passes and finished around the basket.”

Parkside came out of the break with a 36-32 lead, and leading scorer senior guard Alyssa Nelson finally got going with a 3-pointer. Kuhn and freshman forward Vivianne Jende responded to tie the game with baskets, neither team built more than a six-point lead all game. The Rangers scored one last bucket before the end of the third and held a 38-36 advantage.

The Wildcats erupted for 26 points in the fourth quarter after scoring 37 in the entire Wayne State game, and Parkside is currently tied with Wayne State for second in the GLIAC standings. The Rangers led by two heading into the fourth, and every time they tried to extend the lead, Kuhn had an answer early in the fourth. 

Once Kuhn kept the game within striking distance, Lutz came up huge with her 3-pointers. NMU was 1-9 from 3 in the first three quarters, but Lutz drilled two of them. Kuhn gave NMU the lead back twice in a row after Parkside buckets, 42-40 and 44-42 and she then found Lutz to make it a five-point game. The Rangers weren’t going away and cut it to a 51-49 score, and Lutz made her second triple.

“I’ve struggled a little bit during the season with going back and forth between me getting these shots or my teammates getting these shots,” Kuhn said. “But I know when I get these opportunities, my teammates are counting on me to make these shots, so that’s what it came down to today.”

Up four with under two minutes left, the Wildcats got four possessions in a row to wind the clock down thanks to offensive rebounds. Lutz grabbed one, Kuhn grabbed the next and the team got a dead ball rebound after Parkside couldn’t keep the ball in bounds. Time became UWP’s biggest enemy, and the game was over.

“It was good to get a win against a really good basketball team like Parkside, and this gives us more confidence that we still have a chance to be a decent team, we have a chance to get into the conference tournament,” Mattson said. “It just feels good, like a big load off of us, because we really weren’t happy around here for four days, we struggled from Thursday all the way until today.”

Kuhn led all scorers with 28 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Lutz came through with 12 points and Jende had eight. Sophomore forward Kayla Bohr led the Rangers with 16 points, and Schoenbeck had 12. Nelson came into the game averaging 20.8 points per game and was only held to seven.

NMU now sits solely in eighth place in the GLIAC standings and controls their own destiny with two regular season games left.