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Northern Michigan University basketball teams face Davenport after tough stretch

Ishpeming High School alumna and Northern Michigan University guard Madigan Johns, right, passes the ball to teammate Makaylee Kuhn in a game against Grand Valley on Saturday at the PEIF gym in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

MARQUETTE — Last weekend was Valentine’s Day and the Northern Michigan University basketball programs got a rotten gift in the form of sweeps by Grand Valley State. Northern’s women “received” their present at home and the men on the road.

The women (7-7) struggled offensively, not even getting to the 40-point mark in either game. The men (6-8) played much closer, losing the opener in overtime, but they were still handed two defeats.

Neither team had long to rebound with a single game against Michigan Tech on Tuesday. The women lost at home to rival Michigan Tech while the men lost in Houghton.

Each Wildcats now has to face Davenport this weekend.

Wildcat women’s head coach Troy Mattson said his team will have to get better as it committed 20 turnovers against Michigan Tech, even though the Panthers are struggling this year at 4-10.

“I’m really concerned about Davenport,” the coach said. “They have people that can put the ball in the basket. If we can’t stop them, we’re going to struggle to score, especially on the road. Unfortunately for them, they’ve had a tough time stopping people, too, so maybe we’ll get some shots that we normally don’t get against the better teams.

“We have four really important games here coming up to end the season, games that are potentially winnable if we clean a couple things up. If we are able to do a good job with these four games, we’re going to end up with a pretty good record.

“We’ve got some growing up to do. We understand that part and we’ll keep continuing to figure it out here in the next couple of weeks before we get ready for the (GLIAC) tournament, and hopefully we can play some good basketball coming down the stretch leading into the tournament so we’ll have some confidence in ourselves.”

The men will play at home against DU. These Panthers (5-9) have had an up-and-down season, but they swept last weekend, so it could be a difficult series.

“They just swept (Michigan) Tech this past weekend,” NMU head coach Matt Majkrzak said during Monday’s Zoom interview. “So it’s been kind of nice where we’re watching one and you get to watch the other. It makes it a little bit easier to prep.

“They’re playing very, very well. I think going into the year, a lot of people, including me, thought they could challenge for winning the conference. They had a bunch of really tough-luck things happen to them and they’re starting to get some of their best players back and healthy and in the swing of things.

“They’re going to be a very, very tough battle with I think (the way) they’re playing right now. They’re starting to play as well as anyone in the league. It’s kind of what we all expected and were a little worried about once they got everyone back, we kind of knew they were going to make a run.

“Very well coached, very tough. So this three-game stretch isn’t going to be easy by any means.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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