MARQUETTE - There shouldn't be any surprises on the basketball court today when Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech meet in a GLIAC Women's Tournament semifinal at 3:07 p.m.
Not only are these longtime Upper Peninsula rivals, but the teams have met twice in the past five weeks, each team winning on its home floor.
This time, the floor is the neutral court of Wayne State University in Detroit for a shot at the host Warriors or Ashland University in the tourney championship game at 2:07 on Sunday afternoon. The latter two teams play in today's early semifinal at 1:07 p.m. on the WSU court.
Northern Michigan University junior Aylssa Colla (3) makes a shot as Northwood University junior Jade Ledy fails to block her on Wednesday night at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. The Wildcats won this GLIAC Women’s Tournament quarterfinal game 82-64 to advance to today’s semifinals. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"We know what Michigan Tech brings, and I know we're not going to fool anybody," NMU coach Troy Mattson said. "The team that plays well is the team that is going to win this game."
That doesn't mean there won't be any strategy employed on Mattson's part.
"We'll be trying to find our mismatches and exploit them," he said. "That's something we've been doing all season.
"We came down here to win this tournament, and so did Michigan Tech. You can say that about all four teams. We're all looking for that automatic berth in the NCAA tournament."
Each team won its tourney opener at home on Wednesday, NMU taking out No. 7 Northwood 82-64 and Tech struggling more in a 69-63 overtime victory against No. 6 Saginaw Valley State.
NMU, which is 20-7 overall, is the tourney's No. 2 seed, MTU (19-8) No. 3 and Ashland No. 4. But all three finished with a conference record of 16-6 as Wayne State won the top seed at 17-5 after winning its final regular season game vs. North Division cellar-dweller Lake Superior State to break a five-game losing streak.
The Wildcats and Huskies finished their regular seasons against each other at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Northern coming out on top 67-59.
"I feel that Michigan Tech is a bit limited on offense, because they only have three players that really score," Mattson said. "We have more offensive weapons than they do.
"We just have to slow them down so they don't go off like (Mackenzie) Perttu did the first time we played them."
That was in Houghton on Feb. 3 in Tech's 71-65 win when Perttu, a sophomore, poured in 30 points. She, sophomore Danielle Blake and Paige Albi have been the Huskies' top three scorers in both games against NMU this season, together scoring all but 11 of MTU's points in each contest.
While Mattson may rely on more players to score than that, it's clear the Wildcats rely on Alyssa Colla for their biggest point production, as she averages 16.7 points per game. Fellow junior guard Lauren Gruber is next at 9.9 ppg.
Both earned All-GLIAC honors at the league's women's basketball banquet on Friday evening. Colla was named to the conference First Team and Gruber to the Second Team as each also made the GLIAC All-Defensive Team.
Hillsdale junior forward Megan Fogt was named conference Player of the Year, while Ashland's Suzy Wollenhaupt was Freshman of the Year and Jamie Pewinski of SVSU the Coach of the Year.
Blake and Perttu were named to the First Team and Blake was also an All-Defensive Team selection.