Overtime-forcing 3-pointer won’t fall for Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team vs. Michigan Tech in 59-56 loss

Northern Michigan University’s Taylor Hodell, left, works the ball against Michigan Tech defender Michelle LaFave on Sunday afternoon at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE — Taylor Hodell’s 17 points weren’t enough as the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team fell to No. 15 Michigan Tech 59-56 at the Berry Events Center on Sunday.

The Wildcats are 6-6 overall and 2-3 in the GLIAC.

NMU head coach Troy Mattson said free throws and rebounding are what threw his team off.

“We were 21 of 35 from the free-throw line and we’re a top-10-in-the-country free-throw shooting team,” he said. “We’ve been doing an incredible job on the free-throw line all season long. I haven’t even told our girls that, I didn’t want them to think about it.

“It’s unbelievable we got bit that way in something we’ve been doing an incredible job with all year.

“We didn’t do a great job in defensive rebounding. They’re (MTU) not the strongest offensive rebounding team in the league, and we struggled to keep them off the boards for whatever reason….

“It was two areas. It wasn’t because of our effort, our defense, offense, it was because of our free throws and we didn’t post some big rebounds.”

The game was closely contested, with junior guard Tess Weatherly scoring the first five points for the Wildcats to jump out to a 5-2 lead.

MTU got its first lead at 6-5 on a jump shot by senior guard Kelli Guy.

After a free throw from sophomore forward Erin Honkala, the Wildcats went up 16-10 and led 29-28 at the half.

The Huskies started to pull away in the fourth quarter. With 6:38 remaining, MTU senior guard Lindsay Winter made a jump shot to make the lead 50-43, the largest lead of the afternoon for either team.

The Wildcats tried clawing back, and with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Lexi Smith drove in for the layup to pull the Wildcats within 55-54.

Guy was fouled right after that and sank both free throws to give the Huskies just a little breathing room.

That forced the Wildcats to set up for a game-tying 3-pointer, which was taken by sophomore forward Jessica Schultz. The ball bounced off the rim as time expired for the Huskies to hang on.

Mattson said Schultz was the player he wanted shooting the ball.

“Right now she’s our best 3-point shooter,” he said. “She’s been shooting it as good as anybody we’ve got and I’m not worried about that.

“That’s not the reason why we won or lost. It would have been a heroic play, but we should have never been in that position.”

Schultz added 12 points and five rebounds, while Smith had 11 points.

Guy led the Huskies with 15 points and two assists, while Winter and senior forward Hannah Stoll had 12 points each.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.