W Basketball: ‘Cats looking forward, tough road trip ahead


Dallas Wiertella/NW

BOWING OUT—NMU sophomore guard Samantha Potter goes up for the contested layup over two Davenport defenders last season. The NMU Women’s basketball team is going up against Lake State and Ferris State and hopes to improve both defense and offensive strategies.

Chris Anderson

The Wildcats suffered back-to-back losses last week against Michigan Tech and Grand Valley, the top two teams in the GLIAC. The Wildcats were able to build a 7-point lead early against the nationally ranked Lakers but unfortunately NMU was held to just 8 points over the second and third quarters as Grand Valley was able to hold on to their lead for a 45-38 win.

“We have to hit those layups that we’re missing, those open shots that we have, we have to knock them down,” Head Coach Casey Thousand said, reflecting on past games and looking forward.

Poor shooting has been the theme over the past three games as the ‘Cats are shooting a combined 33.8% from the field. NMU star guard Makaylee Kuhn was held to just 12 points on 3-12 shooting but had three steals in the game against GVST and went 6-6 from the free throw line.

“Obviously, it’s a discussion, but it’s also trying to figure out where we can get better shots and what can we do offensively to get things a little bit better flow,” Thousand said.

Coach Thousand will be trying to fix their shooting woes this week by continuing drills and instilling confidence in the roster in order to have them knock down open shots. Thousand has also been trying to tweak an already strong defense as she knows that her defense often dictates how well the offense plays.

“What they do with their length and how big we are, we are big in almost every area compared to a lot of other teams,” Thousand said. “The other thing that we really take pride in is just our toughness.”

NMU was able to bounce back after the tough week and take an 11-point win over Davenport University behind Makaylee Kuhn’s 22-point, five assist, nine rebound performance to propel the Wildcats over the Panthers. Sophomore forward Vivianne Jende added 10 points and three rebounds in just 18 minutes of play.

“Look at those teams that were playing at home to their top teams, and they’re very tough opponents, even within our conference, which hasn’t been an easy road at home,” Thousand said.

The ‘Cats are already making significant progress in Coach Thousand’s first season here at NMU but so far, the ‘Cats have been below average when playing at home with a 4-5 record. NMU is 7-2 on the road this season and Thousand will be exploring more ways to improve and duplicate the success they have seen on the road this season.

“We have to keep building and I think we keep doing what we’re doing and get a little bit better in some areas and tweak some things. This stretch coming up could be really good for us,” Thousand said.

NMU is on the road this week for a pivotal road trip that will see them face two of the lower standing teams in the GLIAC. NMU is only two games out of first place and Thousand knows that each team in the GLIAC will be a test. The team is looking forward as they prepare for the last stretch of games before the conference tournament.

NMU will be taking on Lake State today at 5:30 p.m. and will be traveling to Ferris State on Saturday, Jan. 28. The ‘Cats will be looking for revenge when they face the Bulldogs as they lost a heartbreaking loss at home after last month. The ‘Cats erased a double-digit lead but ended up losing 54-60.

“It’s going to be a battle. Lake State, they battled with us at home,” Thousand said. “It was another grind out win for us and I think it’s going to be the exact same thing when they’re on the road when we go.”