MARQUETTE - It was a statement win for the Northern Michigan University women's basketball team Saturday in an 84-69 victory over No. 19-ranked Wayne State at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.
This marks the Warriors' third loss in the GLIAC this season, who currently lead the league with a 16-3 record. With the win, the 'Cats advance to 13-6 in the GLIAC, third behind Michigan Tech at 15-4.
"I thought we handled ourselves well out there," NMU head coach Troy Mattson said. "The girls did an incredible job matching up properly and keeping (the Warriors) at bay."
The game was tight throughout the first half with three ties and six lead changes. But NMU was able to establish a small lead, entering halftime up 40-36.
The Wildcats extended their lead to double figures in the second half and did not allow the gap to drop below 10 for the last 14 minutes of play to seal the win.
"We had a lot of energy right from the start," Wildcat junior Alyssa Colla said. "(The Warriors) are No. 1 in the conference right now, so it was a huge win."
NMU debuted a different defensive style of play, specifically to ward off Wayne State center Shareta Brown, who scored 27 points against Michigan Tech on Thursday in Houghton.
Brown scored 13 points in the first half, but the Wildcats locked down defensively and held her to just six points in the second.
"I think our post did a better job of boxing her out and keeping her off the offensive boards. That's where she gets a lot of her points," junior Abbey DeBruin said.
Although the 'Cats only shot 37.1 percent from the floor in the first half, they countered with eight offensive rebound
for second-chance shots. NMU outrebounded Wayne State 36-29, with DeBruin leading the Wildcats with 14 boards.
"Offensive rebounds are always a spark for our team. Normally, when we get one, we score on it," DeBruin said. "When we can crash in and get some offensive boards, it's always going to help us."
Colla had a team-high 26 points for the Wildcats, followed by DeBruin with 18. Mattson said Colla fell ill Friday and was unable to work out with the team Saturday morning.
"For somebody to come in and do that performance is pretty amazing," Mattson said.
"She was dead tired out there and was still making big shots."
For the Warriors, Brown led with 19 points. Imari Redfield had 17.
The Wildcats, who shoot 100 free throws every day at practice, were 26 of 27 from the free throw line Saturday for 96.3 percent.
"It's just a mental thing," Colla said. "We know we can knock them in, so that's just what we did."
Delaney Lovett can be reached at 906-228-2500 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.