W Basketball: ‘Cats taking huge strides in Coach Thousand’s first year


Dallas Wiertella

BALANCED — Guard Makaylee Kuhn drives to the basket. (NW File Photo – Feb., 16, 2023)

Chris Anderson

Davenport gave the women’s basketball team a lot of trouble in the first quarter of last Thursday’s game that saw the ‘Cats fall behind 16-9, shooting just 4-16 from the field in the quarter. The rest of the game was a much different story as the ‘Cats dominated, scoring 20 or more in the following three quarters after struggling early on.

“I think we’re just having fun … anybody who came in off the bench, people were ready to go, they were having fun with what they’re doing,” Head Coach Casey Thousand said. “They’re sharing the ball great, we’re knocking down shots, it was a fun environment to be in.”

Guard Makaylee Kuhn had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and is averaging 15.3 points on the season. NMU added 18 points off the bench and their defense looked good down the stretch. Thousand and her staff believe that the offensive and defensive performance the team showed after being down early against Davenport is a glimpse of the potential this team really has. 

“It’s just the fact that we got to put a full game together, our offense is starting to go now. We’re starting to hit some more shots. We’re starting to connect a little bit more,” Thousand said.

The first time NMU faced off with Grand Valley, the sixth ranked team in the nation, they battled with them and showed just how far coach Thousand has brought this team in her first year coaching here. Unfortunately, the Lakers held NMU to just two points in the third period and the ‘Cats were unable to close the seven-point gap and lost 38-45.

“Just to have them compete and to not give up, I think was really, really huge. And we, as a staff, are super proud of how they fought and continued to fight no matter what the score was,” Thousand said.

The ‘Cats showed they were able to keep up with the top ranked team last weekend as well, but another bad quarter was the deciding factor for NMU in the 64-52 loss on the road. NMU guard Mackenzie Holzwart had a great night with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals.

“That second period got us. I think it was a combination of what they were doing to us defensively and our turnovers,” Thousand said.

NMU will host the UW-Parkside Rangers and honor senior Elena Alaix this weekend against Purdue Northwest. The team is very excited to see what they can do against another top team in the GLIAC with the Rangers — 16-8, 11-3 GLIAC — sitting in third place in the conference.

The Wildcats — 13-11, 8-7 GLIAC — sitting in fifth place, have hopes of making a run with the season coming near an end with the ‘Cats playing really good basketball at the right time. NMU was able to take over in the second half for a pivotal win over the Rangers with a 73-67 win.  

“They’re coming for us because we got them on their court,” Thousand said. “So, we have to be ready to go for sure.”