MARQUETTE, Mich. – Three players reached double figures and the Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball Team lead for over 25 minutes, but the Wildcats were unable to get past #15 Michigan Technological University when their last second three-pointer bounced out.
Junior Taylor Hodell (Wausau, Wis./DC Everest) led the Wildcats with 17 points and was second on the team with six rebounds. Sophomore Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) added 12 points and two assists.
Freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines) finished with 11 points and tied with Hodell with six rebounds. She also tied with Schultz for the team's lead in assists. Sophomore Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) led the team with seven rebounds.
NMU jumped out to an early 5-2 lead after junior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.) hit two free throws and then a three pointer. Michigan Tech responded to take a 6-5 lead, but Schultz knocked in two free throws to give the Wildcats back the lead. Hodell then scored her first layup of the afternoon, which Tech answered, but Hodell scored again, followed by a basket by Honkala and the hosts were up 13-10 with less than three minutes to go in the first quarter.
Schultz got the Wildcats up 15-10, and Honkala added a free throw, and after an MTU basket, NMU led 16-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Huskies opened the second quarter strong and the teams saw a 20-20 tie with 4:52 to go in the first half. The teams continued to trade baskets, as freshman Elizabeth Lutz (Marshall, Wis.) got NMU ahead three points, but MTU answered and got ahead 26-23 with 2:09 to go.
Junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) narrowed the gap to one with a layup. After the Huskies answered, Hodell made another layup. With three seconds to go, Hodell again knocked in a layup to answer MTU, and NMU went into halftime with a 29-28 advantage.
Schultz scored four points to start the third frame and the Wildcats were up 33-30. Smith added to the lead with a jumper to put the hosts up 35-30 with 4:50 to go in the quarter. After a 6-0 run by Michigan Tech, Honkala made a free throw to put NMU ahead 37-36 with 2:24 left in the third quarter. However, the Huskies once again went on a 6-0 run to close the quarter and claimed a 42-37 lead into the final frame.
A layup by Schultz narrowed the gap, but Michigan Tech was able to pull ahead 50-43 with over six minutes to play. Honkala got the deficit down to four after a layup and a free throw, but the guests answered. The next possession Smith hit two free throws to once again narrow the gap.
Tech went up 54-48, before Hodell hit two free throws, and then hit two more to answer an MTU free throw and NMU was within three, 55-52 with 1:03 to go.
With 29 seconds on the clock, Smith pulled NMU within one, 55-54. MTU then hit two free throws to go back up three, 57-54 with 21 seconds left. On the next Wildcat possession, Smith got to the basket and scored to make it 57-56 with 12 seconds remaining.
After two more MTU free throws, NMU was down 59-56 with 10 seconds to go. Smith was able to drive, and dished to Schultz in the corner for a three-point attempt. Schultz was able to get the shot off over the Tech defender and it looked promising as it headed to the rim, but the ball ultimately bounced off the rim as the Wildcats fell short of an upset.
Northern Michigan falls to 6-6 on the season and 2-3 in the GLIAC while MTU improves to 11-1 on the season and 5-0 in league play. The Wildcats return to action Tuesday as they head to University of Minnesota Duluth for their final game before break. They will then return to take on Tiffin University Thursday, January 4 in the Berry Events Center.