MARQUETTE, Mich. – A pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining on the clock by junior guard Alyssa Colla gave Northern Michigan a 76-74 win over Walsh Thursday night at the Berry Events Center in their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.
The win improved the Wildcats to 4-1 overall with a 1-0 record in the GLIAC while Walsh fell to 3-1 and 0-1 in league play.
The game was a back-and-forth affair with the lead changing 11 times with nine ties throughout the contest.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Walsh because they have a really good basketball team and really good players," said NMU head coach Troy Mattson. "We hung in there all night long and I think we were battling a lot of things, trying to slow them down, trying to battle them. We ran our offense properly and got the ball to the right people and they made some plays."
Colla led all players with 23 points and was 13-13 from the free throw line playing 38 minutes of action. Guard Jalynn Graham led Walsh with 19 points going 8-13 from the field and 3-4 from three-point range.
NMU outrebounded Walsh 40-28 led by junior forward Abbey DeBruin and senior forward Annie Rubendunst with eight boards each. Debruin added 16 points while Rubendunst had 15 rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Wildcats.
Walsh led by as many as nine points in the first half, but two free throws by Colla and a layup by DeBruin in the final 1:22 of the half cut into the Walsh lead 44-40 at the half.
A layup by Colla with 10:27 remaining in the game gave NMU its first lead of the second-half 58-57.
The game changed hands seven more times through the final 10-minutes.
As a team, NMU shot 40.4 percent (23-57) from the floor and were 42.1 (8-19) percent from three. They made 22-25 free throws including going 12-13 (92.3) during the first half.
The Wildcats continue GLIAC action on Saturday when they host Malone at the Berry Events Center. Game time against the Pioneers is set for 1 p.m.