MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Women's Basketball team for Northern Michigan University used a strong defensive effort to get a 55-44 victory over Davenport University in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup. Tied entering the fourth quarter, NMU kept the Panthers scoreless for the first 7 minutes of the quarter.
Freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines) led the team with 22 points, hitting 11 of 11 free throws on the night. Sophomore Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) chipped in with 14 points. Emily Schramek (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, and tied with Schultz for the team lead.
Junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) finished with seven rebounds, a team-high three assists, and tied Smith with two steals.
Smith scored on the game's first possession, but DU answered with nine-straight points to go ahead 9-2 four minutes into the game. Smith inched NMU closer with two free throws, but DU hit two jumpers to make it 13-4 with 3:22 to go in the first quarter. Junior Taylor Hodell (Wausau, Wis./DC Everest) hit a layup, then Smith hit four throws, but a Panther jumper helped give the guests a 15-10 lead after the first frame.
The teams traded baskets to open the second quarter, then Smith hit a three-pointer to make it 17-15. DU hit a jumper in response, but Schultz made a layup, followed by a three-point play to tie the game at 19-19 with 2:32 to go in the first half. To close out the half, the Panthers hit a three and took a 22-19 lead into halftime.
Smith began the second half with a layup, then Schramek gave NMU their first lead since the opening possession by hitting a three. However, the guests scored on their next trip to tie the game 24-24 with 8:24 on the clock. Schultz gave NMU back the lead, then two free throws from Schramek made the score 28-24. DU made a basket, but Schultz made a layup, followed by a Hodell layup to make it 32-26 with 4:33 left in the quarter.
The Panthers soon hit a jumper and a free throw, then a DU three-pointer tied the game at 32-32 with 3:22 to play. The teams continued to trade baskets to close the quarter, seeing a 36-36 tie entering the final ten minutes.
Schultz opened the quarter with back-to-back layups, then junior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.) made a three to move NMU ahead 43-36 three minutes in. Smith added to the lead with two free throws, a layup, and a three-point play to make it 50-36 with 2:29 to play.
Davenport finally scored their first basket of the quarter with 1:42 to play, but by then it was too late. Dillinger sank two free throws, followed by a free throw from sophomore Bailey Denis (De Pere, Wis./De Pere) and two from sophomore Baleigh Delorit (Algoma, Wis.) to seal the game. DU ended the game with six more points, but NMU held on to take the 55-44 victory.
The Wildcats finished the game a perfect 18-18 from the free throw line while Davenport finished just 1-6.
With the win, NMU moves to 14-13 on the season, and 10-9 in the GLIAC while the Panthers fall to 8-18 overall, 6-13 in the league. The Wildcats return to the court Saturday as they host Wayne State University in the final home game of the season. Now locked in at the sixth seed, the team will take on Grand Valley State University Wednesday in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinals.