Wildcats women win opener in Kentucky

By Journal Sports Staff

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — After trailing throughout the entire opening 2 1/2 quarters, the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team used a pair of second-half surges to overtake Bellarmine for a 63-55 victory on Saturday.

Playing in the opening round of the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic, the Wildcats (4-2) took their first lead when junior Emily Schramek sank a 3-pointer with 3:39 left in the third quarter to get a 40-37 lead.

After the Knights (3-1) retook a one-basket lead early in the fourth, NMU went on an 8-0 run to re-establish a 50-45 lead that was culminated by Sydney Dillinger completing a traditional layup-and-a-free-throw three-point play with 7:09 remaining.

Then Northern added a 9-0 spurt to run away after Bellarmine closed to within 52-51, capped off by a pair of Dillinger free throws with 59 seconds to go.

Wildcats junior Darby Youngstrom led all scorers with 17 points, hitting 9 of 10 free throws, while adding four rebounds and three steals.

But it was sophomore teammate Erin Honkala who had the stat line of the game despite scoring just eight points. That’s because she pulled down a game- and career-high 15 rebounds, made six steals and blocked five shots.

NMU freshman Elizabeth Lutz added 15 points, including three 3s.

Northern’s first-half deficit grew to as large as 14-6 with 3:53 to go in the first quarter before the ‘Cats pulled within 18-16 after one period. The Knights kept a lead of one to six points throughout the second quarter, keeping a 33-27 advantage at halftime.

Though Bellarmine made three more field goals, 22 to 19, NMU more than made up for it by sinking 19 of 22 (86 percent) free throws compared to 6 of 6 for the Knights.

The Wildcats return home for their first week of GLIAC games, hosting Northwood at 8 p.m. Thursday and Saginaw Valley State at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Berry Events Center.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.