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Taking the Challenge: Northern Michigan University announces women’s basketball schedule that opens by hosting interleague Challenge

Northern Michigan University’s Taya Stevenson, center, drives past Michigan Tech’s Kylie Mogen, left, as Ellie Mackay closes in during the first quarter on Feb. 16 at the NMU PEIF gym in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

More info: For the complete NMU women’s basketball schedule, visit the NMU athletics website at www.nmuwildcats.com

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MARQUETTE — An event that fans of several Northern Michigan University teams have heard about but rarely get to see will be coming to Marquette to kick off the Wildcats’ women’s basketball season in November.

After entertaining Bay College of Escanaba in an exhibition game on Oct. 28, NMU hosts a pair of games in the GLIAC-Great Lakes Valley Conference Challenge on Nov. 13-14.

The Wildcats will play a pair of GLVC teams as part of the event — William Jewell at 1:15 p.m. on that Saturday and Lewis at 2:15 p.m. that Sunday.

Northern Michigan University's Liz Lutz, left, stretches to make a pass as Michigan Tech's Kylie Mogen defends during the first quarter on Feb. 16 at the NMU PEIF gym in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

Generally, NMU teams have traveled to schools in Illinois or Missouri to play in these interconference events. It wasn’t clear from NMU if there is anything specifically at stake for winners of the “challenge,” though it gives teams from these neighboring leagues a chance to see each other in case they make it to the NCAA Division II tourney, where these conferences often hook up.

That could be important as the Wildcats are seeking their 10th straight GLIAC Tournament appearance. In March, NMU went one-and-out with a loss to Davenport in the tourney’s first round.

The upcoming season’s schedule includes a total of 28 regular-season games, exactly half — 14 — at home. The Bay College game would make 15 at home, actually.

Season tickets are now available. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the website tickets.nmu.edu or call 227-1032.

After the GLIAC-GLVC Challenge, Northern plays four more nonconference games in November before jumping into the conference season in December.

Those four nonleague encounters are at home against Minnesota-Crookston at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, then on the road at Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday, Nov. 20, St. Cloud State on Friday, Nov. 26 — the day after Thanksgiving — and Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday, Nov. 27.

For the conference season, NMU and the GLIAC are returning to their traditional scheduling, with women’s-men’s doubleheaders. They’ll also be back to mostly a traditional Thursday-Saturday schedule, both games each week either at home or on the road. Games against Michigan Tech, the Wildcats’ traveling companion, are played on Mondays.

Last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the men’s and women’s teams separated and played the same opponent on back-to-back days at the same place.

As has become tradition, the Wildcats’ games against Michigan Tech, both in Marquette and in Houghton, will be televised on WLUC Channel 6 or Fox-U.P. Channel 11.

NMU opens its season on the road at Northwood on Thursday, Dec. 2, then takes off that Saturday before heading up to Houghton to play MTU on Monday, Dec. 6.

The Wildcats play their first GLIAC home games later that week, hosting Ferris State at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9, and Lake Superior State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Northern takes a holiday break from the conference at that point, though NMU will play a pair of nonconference games before jumping back into the GLIAC about a week after New Year’s.

The Wildcats travel to Illinois-Springfield on Saturday, Dec. 18, then host Finlandia at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 2.

The balance of the regular season is in the GLIAC, starting at home the following week. NMU hosts Purdue Northwest at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, and Wisconsin-Parkside at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8.

Saturday games that are pushed ahead to 11 a.m. are generally due to an NMU hockey game also being played at the Berry that evening and extra time needed to change from a basketball floor to the ice.

Northern goes on the road the following week before playing the last two weeks of January at home.

The Wildcats are at Saginaw Valley State on Thursday, Jan. 13, and at Wayne State on Saturday, Jan. 15. Then they’re home to host Davenport at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20 and Grand Valley State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22.

Taking the following Thursday off, NMU remains at home to host Northwood at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, and Michigan Tech at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 31.

The Wildcats spend most of February on the road.

They play at Wisconsin-Parkside on Thursday, Feb. 3, at Purdue Northwest on Saturday, Feb. 5, at Grand Valley State on Thursday, Feb. 10, and at Davenport on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Then they get their only home games of the month the following week, hosting Wayne State at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17, and Saginaw Valley State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19.

They conclude the regular season as road warriors, going to LSSU on Thursday, Feb. 24, and to Ferris State on Saturday, Feb. 26.

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

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