MARQUETTE - The Northern Michigan University women's basketball team took an early lead and never looked back in a 79-55 GLIAC win over Tiffin University on Thursday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.
While the Wildcats had nearly two weeks off from team practices, they stayed on top of their training with planned workouts from the coaches.
"All the credit goes to them," head coach Troy Mattson said. "I could tell they were in the gym while we were gone."
The Wildcats came out strong with a 65.5 field goal percentage in the first half.
Junior guard Alyssa Colla led the charge with 17 points on the night.
"Alyssa's been awesome," Mattson said. "She got other people points, she got her own points and she really controlled a large part of the game."
Northern Michigan University junior guard Lauren Gruber (10) attempts to protect the ball against Tiffin University’s MacKenzie Storlie (3) during a GLIAC contest on Thursday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Jenna Thompson)
NMU sophomore forward Nea Makela added 12 points, while junior forward Brooke Coenen and junior center Courtney Lemon chipped in 10 each.
The 'Cats dominated the defensive boards with 32 rebounds. Coenen led the charge with nine of her 10 total boards being on the defensive end.
The 'Cats had only three offensive rebounds against the Dragons, which Mattson attributed to a high shooting percentage and the absence of sophomore Anna Liewen, who suffered a season-ending knee injury six games in.
"Our depth is going to take a hit," Mattson said. "Our offensive rebounding has gone way down since (Anna) has been gone, so that's going to be huge concern as we go along."
Prior to the holiday break, NMU relied heavily on its starters to get wins against difficult opponents. But on Thursday, the lead NMU established early on allowed for playing time for everyone on the bench.
"I thought the people coming off the bench made a difference," Mattson said. "Our starters have been solid the last couple of weeks. When everyone can add something, we're going to be a really hard team to beat."
Now on a five-game win streak, the Wildcats improve to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The Dragons fall to 3-6 and 0-5, respectively.
"I think our girls are settling in and understanding how to play the game. If we continue to do that, we're going to give ourselves a chance," Mattson said. "That's all we can really expect at this point."
The Wildcats take on Ohio Dominican University at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the BEC. The Panthers are 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the GLIAC after a Thursday loss at Michigan Tech.