MARQUETTE, Mich. – After picking up a split last week on the road in Ohio, the Northern Michigan women’s basketball team returns home this week, hosting Northwood (Feb. 23) and Saginaw Valley State (Feb. 25) to close out the regular season.
The Wildcats enter the week at 11-13 on the season and 7-10 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. NMU netted a thrilling 59-57 upset win over Lake Erie on Feb. 16, when senior guard Chelsea Lyons sank the go ahead layup with just 15 seconds left in the contest. NMU then fell to No. 5 Ashland on Feb. 18, 85-55, as the Eagles picked up their 24 consecutive victory.
After the split, NMU remains in third place in the north division and in eighth place in the overall conference standings with just two games left. Seven teams are currently vying for the final two spots in the conference tournament after the first six spots have already been locked up.
The ‘Cats are also playing to support breast cancer research this week as they host the “GLIAC Pink Wave.” The event is collaboration with the Women’s Basketball Association’s “Play 4Kay.” The events are in effort to raise breast cancer awareness and funds to help Wipe Out Breast Cancer.
Northwood enters the contest at 10-14 on the season and 5-12 in the GLIAC. The Timberwolves dropped a pair of games last week to Saginaw Valley State and Lake Superior State and currently sit in sixth place in the north division. The Timberwolves defeated the ‘Cats earlier this season back on Jan. 28, 63-55, in Midland.
NMU is 38-15 all-time against Northwood with the series dating back to the 1981-82 season. The ‘Cats have won three of the last five in the series.
Thursday’s game is part of a doubleheader, with the game set to tipoff at 5:30 p.m., with the men’s game to follow.
On Saturday, NMU concludes the regular season against Saginaw Valley State. The Cardinals enter the week at 6-18 on the season and 4-13 in the GLIAC. SVSU currently sits in seventh place in the north division after defeating Northwood last week before falling to Hillsdale. NMU defeated SVSU earlier this season back on Jan. 12, 46-35, in University Center.
The ‘Cats are 41-22 all-time against the Cardinals dating back to the 1975-76 season. NMU has won nine of the last ten meetings in the series.
Saturday’s game is also Senior Day, as NMU will honor the three ‘Cat seniors who will be graduating from the program.
Senior guard Chelsea Lyons has been a two-year starter for the ‘Cats after transferring from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Lyons, who was also a member of NMU women’s soccer team, currently leads the ‘Cats in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She has scored 709 points, averaging 14.18 points per game in just two seasons with the program and has a career shooting percentage of .465.
“Chelsea (Lyons) is an incredible person and one of the best athletes ever to play at NMU,” head coach Troy Mattson said. “She is also an outstanding student.”
Senior forward Hillary Bowling is in her fifth year with the program after taking a redshirt year during the 2008-09 season. Bowling has appeared in 96 games over her career, starting in 47 of those. She has 573 total points, averaging 5.96 ppg and 293 total rebounds during her career.
“Hillary (Bowling) is a joy to coach and for not being initially recruited as a shooter, she has proven to be one of the best shooters on the team,” Mattson said. “She is the inspirational leader on the team.”
The third senior graduating from the program is forward Staci Beckel. The forward has been at NMU for two seasons, after transferring from UWGB. Beckel has appeared in 35 games, starting in 26 of those. She has netted 298 points during her career at NMU, averaging 8.5 ppg.
“Staci (Beckel) is very athletic and has the ability to score,” Mattson said. “She is a dedicated individual and a great person to be around.”
Saturday’s game is set to tipoff at 11 a.m., with the men’s game to follow.
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