No. 8 Ashland hands NMU women their first GLIAC loss

By Journal Sports Staff

ASHLAND, Ohio — The Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team had a tough task on its hands Saturday afternoon as the Wildcats faced No. 8 Ashland, who was the NCAA runner-up last season.

Even though they held the Eagles to their second-lowest point total of the year, it wasn’t enough as the Wildcats fell to Ashland 71-55. The loss was NMU’s first in GLIAC play this season. Lexi Smith led Northern (10-4, 5-1 GLIAC) with 19 points, while Ashland’s Sara Loomis led all scorers with 22.

The second quarter was the turning point of the game. After battling the Eagles (13-1, 5-1) to a 16-16 tie after the first quarter, the Wildcats were outscored 14-4 in the second, giving Ashland a 30-20 lead at the half.

In the first quarter, Ashland hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but NMU’s Tess Weatherly answered with a jumper to make the score 10-5 Eagles with 6:08 left.

Later in the quarter, Smith put in a layup to give Northern its first lead at 12-10 with 3:24 remaining. The quarter seesawed for the remaining part of the quarter with the two teams locked together going into the second.

That’s when the Eagles started to catch fire. Ashland went on a 12-0 run before Northern’s Darby Youngstrom ended it with a layup and the Eagles went into the break with a 10-point lead.

In the third, the Wildcats fought their way back. Smith put in a bucket, which was followed by two free throws from Jessica Schultz and a layup from Taylor Hodell, cutting NMU’s deficit to three at 40-37 with 2:23 left. Northern trailed 46-37 heading into the fourth.

Ashland started to pull away in the final quarter. The Eagles eventually pushed their lead back up to 10 points at 58-48 with 5:31 remaining in the quarter. Ashland later put in five straight points to increase its advantage to 15 before Youngstrom dropped in a free throw to trim the Eagles’ advantage to 65-51 with 3:31 left.

Northern hosts Lake Superior State at 5:30 pm. Thursday.

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