Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team opens 2019 with win, 69-56 at Wayne State

DETROIT — The Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team started off 2019 on a strong note as the Wildcats used a big third quarter to take down Wayne State 69-56 on Thursday night.

Erin Honkala led NMU (10-3, 5-0 GLIAC) with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jessica Schultz had 13 points and Lexi Smith 12. WSU’s Grace George led all scorers with 16 points.

The first half went back-and-forth. Back-to-back layups by Taylor Hodell and Honkala put Northern up 8-4 with 5:56 left in the opening quarter, but with 2:46 left, the Warriors hit a trey to take their first lead. NMU grabbed the advantage on a 3-pointer by Smith and after WSU tied it, while Smith dropped in a layup to give the Wildcats a 15-13 advantage going into the second quarter.

In the next period, the Warriors put in two baskets to go up 19-17, but Hodell answered with a layup with 4:43 left before halftime. The lead seesawed for the rest of the half, with a Darby Youngstrom triple giving Northern a 25-22 advantage with 1:30 remaining, though the Warriors tied it with a trey and the teams were deadlocked 25-25 at the break.

The game remained close until the Wildcats caught fire in the third quarter. NMU went on a 13-2 run highlighted by two plays by Honkala. The junior hit a 3-pointer and then put in a three-point play with 1:47 left to give Northern a double-digit lead at 50-40, which was 53-42 heading into the fourth quarter.

NMU then kept control. Youngstrom extended the Wildcats’ lead to 62-46 on a layup with 6:37 left in the fourth and Tess Weatherly knocked down a triple with 5:28 remaining to help nail down the victory.

The Wildcats travel to No. 8 Ashland on Saturday afternoon.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.