LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball Team outscored Bellarmine University 21-10 in the fourth quarter on their way to a 63-55 victory at the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic. The Wildcats ended up outscoring the Knights 36-22 throughout the second half.
Junior Darby Youngstrom (Cook, Minn./North Woods) led the Wildcats with 17 points and three steals. Youngstrom finished the day nine of ten from the free throw line. Freshman Elizabeth Lutz (Marshall, Wis.) added 15 points, going three of four from the three-point line.
Sophomore Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) recorded a career-high 15 rebounds, and added eight points, six steals and five blocked shots. Freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines) chipped in with nine points.
In the first quarter, the Wildcats faced an 11-4 deficit early, but fought back to come within 18-16 at the end of the quarter. The Knights expanded the lead throughout the second quarter, taking a 33-27 advantage as teams entered halftime.
Honkala scored to open the second half, but Bellarmine answered. Youngstrom then scored five points to pull NMU to 35-34 with 4:57 to go in the third quarter. After two free throws gave the hosts a 37-34 lead, junior Emily Schramek (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) was successful on back-to-back three-pointers, receiving assists from Lutz and junior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.), to tie and then gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game, 40-37 with 3:39 to go in the quarter.
The Knights responded by scoring twice and re-claimed a 41-40 lead, but Schramek found Honkala to put the Wildcats back up 42-41 with 2:06 to go in the quarter. However, Bellarmine scored four points in the final two minutes to go ahead 45-42 as the teams headed into the final frame.
NMU opened the fourth quarter with seven-straight points to go ahead. Lutz made three free-throws which Smith followed with a layup, then Honkala found junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) for a layup. Dillinger was fouled and made the following free throw to put the Wildcats up 50-45 with 7:09 to go.
Bellarmine scored twice to pull within one, 50-49, but Youngstrom extended the lead back to 52-49 with two free throws. Another jumper by the Knights brought NMU's lead back down to 52-51, but it would be the closest the game would get. Youngstrom found Lutz for a three-pointer, and then found Honkala for a jump shot to put the Wildcats back up 57-51. Youngstrom and Dillinger followed with four free throws to extend the lead to 10-points, 61-51.
The Knights made a layup, but Lutz answered by making two free throws. The hosts made another layup but were unable to add anymore points as NMU captured the 63-55 come from behind victory.
NMU made a big difference at the free throw line, going 19-22 while the Knights finished with just six attempts, making all six. The Wildcats also outrebounded Bellarmine, 38-28.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 4-2 on the season while Bellarmine drops to 3-1. NMU returns to action Sunday and will take on undefeated University of Southern Indiana in day two of the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic.