Wildcats end season with 78-56 loss to nation’s No. 1 team

By Journal Sports Staff

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It took out the absolute best, or very nearly the best, to end the season for the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team.

Undefeated Drury, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II, knocked off the Wildcats 78-56 in the D-2 national tournament’s Midwest Region semifinals on Saturday night.

Playing at the Panthers’ home in Springfield, NMU fell into a huge hole in the first half and was unable to get back to really challenge this 33-0 powerhouse in the second half.

Northern, which ends its season at 23-10, trailed 21-7 after one quarter and 47-15 at halftime.

While the Wildcats outscored Drury in both the third and fourth quarters, it was only enough to put a dent into that lead.

The Midwest No. 1-seeded Panthers advance to the Midwest championship game at 8 p.m. EDT Monday, where they’ll face a foe familiar to NMU, No. 3 seed Grand Valley State. The Lakers took out Lewis 72-55 Saturday.

On Saturday, the Wildcats held a 28-23 rebounding edge, but turned the ball over 31 times.

Drury helped its own cause, making 15 steals, led by Hailey Diestelkamp with five. She was also the game’s leading scorer with 16 points.

Both teams shot well at the line, NMU making 21 of 23 and Drury 17 of 19.

Taylor Hodell led the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points despite coming off the bench and playing just 14 minutes. She made 8 of 8 free throws and pulled down four rebounds.

Teammate Darby Youngstrom added 12 points, going 4 of 4 at the line, and grabbing three rebounds.

And another bench player, Erin Honkala, led all players with six rebounds while scoring eight points in just 19 minutes as she fouled out.

A 12-0 run into early in the second quarter that made it 27-7 put the writing on the wall for the Wildcats.

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