MIDLAND, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball team outscored Northwood University for the final 30 minutes of play, but a three-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out, causing the Wildcats to fall 56-53 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
Freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines) chipped in with 11 points while sophomore Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) finished with 10 points, and led the team with four blocks and six rebounds. She also displayed her extended shooting range, hitting a career-high two three-pointers.
Smith scored the first basket of the game. However, the Timberwolves responded with a 12-2 run before Hodell made two layups to make it 12-6 with 3:54 to play in the quarter. Schultz made a layup in between two threes by the hosts to give NU an 18-8 lead after the first quarter.
The Timberwolves pushed their lead to 23-10, with Schultz making another layup, with 8:45 to play. The Wildcats then went on a 12-1 run. Honkala started the rally with a three-pointer. Hodell followed with two free throws to get the deficit into single digits, and then made a layup from junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.).
NU made a layup to go up 24-17 with 3:16 to play, but Schultz answered with a layup on the next NMU possession. Honkala then made her second three-pointer of the night before Smith made a jumper to tie the game at 24-24 with 31 seconds to go. The Timberwolves made a three on their final possession of the half to take a 27-24 lead into the break.
Honkala started the second half with a layup, but NU answered with a three, then hit a layup to go up 32-26 four minutes into the third quarter. Freshman Elizabeth Lutz (Marshall, Wis.) sank two free throws for her first points of the game, but the hosts scored four points to go up six once again to lead 36-28 with 4:40 left in the quarter.
This time, NMU responded with an eight-point run. Honkala started it with a jumper, then Schultz hit a three, followed by a three-point play by Smith to tie the game at 36-36 with less than a minute to play. The Timberwolves ended the quarter with their own three-point play to take a 39-36 lead into the final frame.
The hosts scored twice to open the fourth quarter and pushed out to a 43-36 lead. Hodell answered with two free throws, but NU added a free throw to keep a six-point lead. Smith responded with a jumper, but the Timberwolves got a basket. On the next NMU possession Schultz converted the old fashioned three-pointer to make it 46-43, but NU scored again.
Schultz made it a one-point game, 48-47 with 3:51 to go after scoring four-straight points for NMU. After two NU free throws, Smith sank two free throws of her own. The Timberwolves then made two more from the charity stripe before Dillinger made a layup, making the score 52-51 with 2:13 to play. The teams traded free throws once more to move the score to 54-53 with less than a minute to play.
The Wildcats were unable to convert on their next possession and were forced to foul to stop the clock. NU sank both free throws to go up 56-53 with just six seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, the Wildcats attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer, but despite going halfway through the net, the ball somehow popped out, resulting in the 56-53 NU victory.
NMU ended the game a perfect 14 of 14 from the free throw line.
The Wildcats move to 10-13 on the season and 6-9 in the GLIAC. Northwood improved to 14-7, 10-5 in the league. NMU will look to bounce back at Saginaw Valley State University Saturday.