Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team gets offense going but still loses to Wayne State, 69-64

Northern Michigan University's Makaylee Kuhn looks for what she wants to do as she dribbles the ball just outside the 3-point arc during a game earlier this season at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — Despite breaking out of their offensive doldrums, the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team was unable to post a victory at home on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats broke the 60-point barrier for the first time in eight games but still lost to Wayne State 69-64 at the Berry Events Center.

NMU’s most recent 60-point game had come in a 77-62 loss at nonconference Northwood on Jan. 2.

The loss was Northern’s third straight and fifth in seven games and knocked the Wildcats into a tie for fifth place with Ferris State in the GLIAC.

Both teams are 7-6 in conference games, a half-game behind fourth-place Saginaw Valley State at 7-5 as the top four league teams earn home court in the first round of the GLIAC Tournament in early March.

Luckily for the NMU, Wayne State is the next team in the standings in seventh place, but 2 1/2 games back at 4-8.

The Wildcats used some uncharacteristically hot 3-point shooting to stay up with the Warriors, making 53% on 10-of-19 shooting from behind the arc.

Overall, NMU hit 38% from the field (24 of 63) while Wayne State was hitting at a 53% clip (24 of 45).

Makaylee Kuhn led Northern scorers with 15 points, hitting 2 of 3 on 3s to go with two steals and three rebounds.

Freshman teammate Sarah Newcomer added 12 points, scoring all of them on 4 of 7 on triples, while Kayla Tierney added nine points, again all coming on 3-pointers.

Wayne State’s Shea Tripp led all scorers with 25 points as she made 2 of 3 treys and 5 of 6 free throws. Teammate Maxine Moore added 18 points.

The game was close throughout with each of the first three quarters ending as a one-possession game.

The teams traded the lead like a volleyball in the opening five minutes before Northern established a seven-point cushion, 20-13, with 2:44 left in the first quarter after back-to-back 3-pointers by Newcomer less than a minute apart.

The Wildcats settled for a 23-20 lead entering the second period, then briefly gave it up when the Warriors went ahead 25-23 on a Ally Shagena 3 with 8:15 left in the first half.

Northern’s Kayla Tierney answered with her own triple 18 seconds later as her team stayed ahead for the rest of the half.

As in the first quarter, the Wildcats were able to build a lead of as many as seven points — twice this time — before settling for a 39-37 edge at intermission.

The third quarter was much the same story. NMU led for most of the period, but Wayne State was able to tie the score twice in the final 4 1/2 minutes before taking a 53-51 lead on a Moore jumper with 2:03 to go.

Northern forged a 53-53 tie to end the quarter when Ana Rhude made a layup with 49 seconds left.

Then there was a role reversal in the all-important fourth quarter.

The Warriors quickly took a lead and, while NMU was able to get back ahead briefly down the stretch, Wayne State finished out on top.

Northern’s lone lead in the final period was 57-56 with 5:52 left on a Rhude layup, but WSU needed just six seconds to retake a 58-57 edge on a Tripp layup of her own.

The Warriors upped their lead to as many as six points, 63-57 with 2:20 left, before the Wildcats whittled it back to 63-62 after Kuhn finished off a “traditional” three-point play with 1:01 to go.

After that, though, Northern made just one more score, a fastbreak layup by Kuhn with 14 seconds remaining that got the Wildcats within two, 66-64.

This week, NMU has an interesting challenge on the road, facing last-place Davenport (1-11 GLIAC) in Grand Rapids at 5:30 p.m. Thursday before having to take on league-leading Grand Valley State (11-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Allendale.

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


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