HOUGHTON, Mich. – Playing in front of a noisy crowd in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game, at the Student Development Complex Gymnasium, on the campus of Michigan Tech. The Northern Michigan University women’s basketball held a three-point lead at halftime (36-33) thanks to nine points from Steffani Stoeger as she connected for three three-pointer during the first 20 minutes of play. But in the end the Michigan Tech Huskies made the shots they had to make down the stretch to pull out a 73-69 win.
With the loss the Wildcats drop to 21-9 overall on the season. Michigan Tech improves to 28-2 for the 2009-10 campaign.
Both teams will play next week in the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Midwest Regional which will be held at Michigan Tech beginning Friday afternoon (March 12). The Huskies were ranked first in this week’s (March 3) women’s basketball regional rankings while the Wildcats were seventh. Sunday evening (March 7) the selection announcement will take place via a web cast on www.NCAA.com, beginning at 9 p.m. (Eastern). The top eight teams in the region advance to the tournament with the winner moving on to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament.
Stoeger’s first three-pointer of the game at 15:56 of the first half gave the ‘Cats an 8-6 lead. Michigan Tech had the lead up to eight points (18-10, 12:38) before a three-pointer from Hillary Bowling to narrow the gap to 18-13 (12:27). Stoeger stroked a three-pointer at 6:11 to tie game at 24-all. Kellie Rietveld gave the ‘Cats a 27-26 lead about a minute later after her three-pointer.
The Huskies took the lead again and were up 30-29 before Mariah Dunham converted a three-point play for a 32-30 NMU lead. Michigan Tech took a 33-32 lead after a three-pointer from Tara Ferris at 1:23. NMU answered right before the buzzer with lay-ups from Erin Powers and Dunham.
The second half saw the ‘Cats take a 39-37 lead at 18:17 after a Stoeger three-pointer. For the next couple of minutes each side traded baskets before Dunham’s three-pointer at 14:48 gave the ‘Cats a 44-41 edge. Dunham tied the game up for the ninth time when she converted both of her free throws at 7:22 (56-all). Twenty seconds later, the ‘Cats held its final lead of the game (58-56) when Stoeger sank both of her free throws.
Michigan Tech held a five-point lead (63-58) with a little over four minutes left in the game. Dunham’s three-point play cut that to two points (63-61) with 3:47 showing on the clock. The Huskies converted a jumper before Christa Erickson made a jumper of her own at 2:39 for a two-point game again (65-63). With under a minute left in regulation, Stoeger made one of her two free throws for a 67-64 game.
NMU still had a chance when Stoeger made a long distance three-pointer with 11 ticks left on the clock for a 71-69 game. The Huskies iced the game with two free throws with 10 seconds showing on the clock.
Stoeger led all scorers with 24 points. She was 6-8 in three-pointers for a new career high. As a team NMU was 9-17 from beyond the arc (52.9 percent). Dunham and Katie Wysocky, from Michigan Tech, each had 23 points for the game. Dunham also had a team-high seven rebounds.
Dunham and Stoeger were both named to the GLIAC Women’s Basketball All-Tournament Team.
For the game the ‘Cats were 24-54 from the floor (44.4 percent). NMU was 12-17 from the free throw line (70.6 percent). Michigan Tech had one more rebound on the night than the ‘Cats (32-31).
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Sports Information Director