Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team’s comeback thwarted in overtime by No. 2 Grand Valley, 74-67

Northern Michigan University’s Makaylee Kuhn passes to a teammate around several Grand Valley State defenders during their GLIAC women’s basketball game played at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Thursday. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — Even though it won’t make much of a difference in the standings, the 74-67 overtime loss suffered on Thursday evening by the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team had to be agonizing.

That was because of the missed opportunity to pin up a win against Grand Valley State, the GLIAC regular-season champion and No. 2 team in NCAA Division II.

Instead, the loss leaves the Wildcats in third place in the league at 12-5, 18-8 overall. NMU finishes its regular season at 11 a.m. Saturday against GLIAC bottom-dweller Davenport (1-16, 2-24).

Despite the Wildcats trailing for most of the game and throughout the second half, they forced overtime when conference leading scorer Makaylee Kuhn hit a fast break 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in regulation to tie it 58-58.

Kuhn led Northern both with her 27 points and seven rebounds. The only triple she sank among five was that one near the end of regulation as she scored 17 points in the second half and OT combined.

Jacy Weisbrod, who has been carrying the Wildcats with her 3-point prowess lately, added 12 points as she hit 2 of 6 from long range. Both Kuhn and Weisbrod made 4 of 5 free throws.

Teammate Sarah Newcomer added 11 points for NMU, hitting three treys, while Abi Fraaza had 10 points and six rebounds. And Mackenzie Holzwart shared team rebounding honors with Kuhn with seven to go with two points.

The Lakers, who improved to 25-2 overall and 16-1 in the GLIAC, were led by Rylie Bisballe’s 28 points as she made three 3s and 7 of 8 free throws while pulling down a game-high eight rebounds and adding two steals. Teammate Hadley Miller totaled 12 points and six rebounds.

Despite the momentum Northern gained by forcing OT, GVSU opened the extra five minutes with a Bisballe 3 and Lexi Plitzuweit free throw to gain a 62-58 advantage less than a minute in.

While Kuhn and Fraaza responded with baskets over the next minute to retie it 62-62, it was all uphill after that for the Wildcats. The Lakers scored the next six points on a Bisballe trey and three free throws to make it 68-62 with 1:07 left.

Twice more NMU got within three, the final time 70-67 after a Kuhn jumper with 25 seconds to go. But Grand Valley hit four free throws after that, two each by Bisballe and Escanaba sophomore Nicole Kamin, for the final margin.

Back at the beginning of the game, GVSU got off to a fast 5-0 start on baskets by Abrie Cabana and Hadley Miller, but Northern used most of the rest of the first quarter to catchup and actually move ahead 10-9 on a Kuhn jumper.

Leading by that score to open the second, Northern took its biggest lead of the day, 13-9, on a Newcomer triple 34 seconds in.

Then the Lakers went to work, scoring six points in a row culminating in a Kamin layup to put her team up 15-13. Fraaza answered with a jumper a little over a minute later to tie it 15-15, but that proved to be the last time the Wildcats would be even until the waning seconds of regulation.

Northern kept it close at halftime, trailing only 29-27, before GVSU raced off to a 46-38 lead at the end of the third, their biggest lead to that point.

It looked like the Lakers were slamming the door on their hosts early in the fourth when they twice extended their advantage to nine points, including 49-40 with 8:16 to go on a Bisballe layup.

Right after that, though, Fraaza made a layup while Kuhn completed a traditional three-point play with 7:29 to go to pull NMU within 49-45.

It remained a two-possession game after that, then Northern forced its deficit down to a single possession over almost all of the final three minutes to set up Kuhn’s heroics late in regulation.

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


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