MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Wildcats made 31 free throws on their way to a 60-52 victory over Saginaw Valley State University in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action.
Freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines) finished 15-15 from the charity stripe and tallied 21 points for a career high. She also tied with junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) with a team-best nine rebounds. Junior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.) chipped in with nine points.
Sophomore Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) finished with six points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Sophomore Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) posted eight points with six rebounds and two blocked shots.
The game started slow as the Cardinals scored the first point, a free throw, two minutes into the game. It took until 6:32 remaining in the first quarter before Dillinger made two free throws to get the Wildcats on the scoreboard.
After a Smith jumper, the guests hit two layups, but Schultz knocked in two free throws to put the Wildcats back ahead, 6-5. A Weatherly layup, followed by two Smith free throws put NMU ahead 10-5 to end the first quarter.
To start the second quarter, SVSU made a jumper, but Weatherly knocked in a three-pointer, followed by two Schultz free throws to put NMU ahead 15-7. After another SVSU jump shot, Schultz hit a three and NMU was ahead 18-9.
The Cardinals responded and eventually took a 23-22 lead with 1:50 left in the half. NMU closed out the half with a free throw by sophomore Emma Benoit (Gilberts, Ill./Hampshire) and two more by Smith to take a 25-23 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, the teams fought back and forth and faced their eighth tie of the game, 33-33 with 4:28 to go in the frame. The tie lasted for nearly two minutes before redshirt freshman Terese Ledy (Marquette, Mich.) made two free throws. Smith then converted a three-point play, followed by a layup by Benoit. After an SVSU bucket, Smith hit two more free throws and NMU claimed a 42-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Smith opened the fourth quarter with a layup, and Dillinger hit a layup before a three-pointer by the Cardinals moved the Wildcat lead to 46-38. To answer the SVSU three-pointer, Smith and Ledy made four free throws, and Honkala made a layup then assisted on a Dillinger three to put NMU up 55-38 with 5:47 to go in the game.
The Cardinals would pull within seven, but NMU made free throws down the stretch and collected the 60-52 GLIAC victory.
NMU finished 31-37 from the charity stripe, shooting 84 percent, while only allowing SVSU 14 chances from the line. NMU also outrebounded the Cardinals 47-24, forcing their guests into just 12 percent shooting from behind the arc.
With the win, NMU improves to 5-4 on the season and is now 1-1 in the GLIAC. SVSU falls to 0-8, 0-2 in the conference. The Wildcats return to action Thursday as they travel to Purdue Northwest for more GLIAC play.