NMU women’s hoops: Wildcats nearly blow 19-point lead in 55-53 win

PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Northern Michigan University held off a late charge to defeat Lake Erie College 55-53 in a women’s basketball game played in Ohio on Saturday afternoon.

Two days after suffering their first GLIAC loss of the season, the Wildcats averted a losing streak when the Storm’s Jackie Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

NMU, 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the GLIAC, led 33-22 at halftime and stretched the advantage to as many as 19 points, 43-24, about three minutes into the second half when sophomore forward Nea Makela hit a pair of free throws.

“We played well for a big part of the first half and the first part of the second half,” said NMU head coach Troy Mattson. “We missed some free throws in the second half and unfortunately had to play without Alyssa Colla for most of the second half.”

Colla, the team’s leading scorer this season, went to the bench with 12:07 to go when she drew her third foul and play by play action from the game indicated she didn’t return.

Just seconds later, the Wildcats went ahead 49-33 on Bre Gaspervich’s 3-pointer. But after that, Lake Erie (6-8, 1-7) began an 11-0 run to cut the lead to five points with 5:14 left.

Northern’s Sarah Miller hit a 3-pointer and she and Gaspervich each were 1 of 2 at the free throw line over the next two minutes as NMU got back to a 54-46 advantage.

But Sami Narducci’s 3-pointer, Daija Jones’ jumper and Chrissy Delaney’s two free throws spurred another 7-0 run that got LEC within 54-53 with 1:04 to go.

Northern committed a turnover and missed three free throws down the stretch before junior forward Abbey DeBruin hit the back end of two-shot free throw situation with 15 seconds left for the final two-point margin.

Miller led all scorers with 13 points, hitting 4 of 5 3-point attempts though only 1 of 4 free throws, and made two steals. DeBruin added 10 points and shared game rebounding honors with Makela, grabbing 11. Makela also had three blocked shots.

Teammate Lauren Gruber scored nine points and dished out four assists as neither team shot particularly well from the field. NMU hit on 36.4 percent of its shots (16 of 44) while Lake Erie made just 27.4 percent (17 of 62).

The Wildcats held a 46-37 rebounding advantage but made 25 turnovers to just 12 for the Storm.

Pacing Lake Erie was Jodie Jindra with 10 points.

NMU returns home for its next two games, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Grand Valley State.