MARQUETTE, Mich. – A career night from senior guard Chelsea Lyons and freshman guard Lauren Gruber propelled the Northern Michigan women’s basketball team to a 71-62 win over Northwood Thursday (Feb. 23) night at the Berry Events Center.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 12-13 on the season and 8-10 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. NMU also remains in third place in the north division. The Timberwolves fall to 10-15 overall and 5-13 in the conference.
“I can’t say enough about the way Chelsea (Lyons) and Lauren (Gruber) played tonight,” head coach Troy Mattson said. “For both to have a career night and to pace us in the second half was huge.”
Northwood took an early 6-2 lead with a jumper from Savannah Stedman less than two minutes into the contest. NMU struck back after trading baskets with Northwood early on, taking its first lead of the contest with a basket from senior forward Hillary Bowling with 13:57 left on the clock. The ‘Cats continued to play with the lead through the remainder of the first half, taking a 31-26 lead into the half.
The Timberwolves began chipping away at the ‘Cats lead early out of the break when Northwood’s Rachel Church scored 12 quick points, all from beyond the arc. Church tied the game at the 14:55 mark with her fourth three-pointer in less than six minutes.
With the game netted at 39-39, the duo of Gruber and Lyons combined to lead NMU in an offensive furry. Gruber hit back-to-back three-pointers, both by way of Lyons, to put the ‘Cats back up by six points, with 14:22 left in the game. Lyons then followed Gruber’s three’s with a three-point play the hard way, sinking a layup and connecting at the charity stripe to push the lead to nine points.
Northwood would go on one more run just minutes, cutting the lead to two points. NMU quickly shut the door again, this time for good, as the dangerous combination of Lyons and Gruber combined again to lead the ‘Cats to the finish line.
“When Lauren (Gruber) and Chelsea (Lyons) connected on back-to-back three-pointers, that was huge,” Mattson said.
The ‘Cats were led by Lyons, who netted a career-high 34 points on a blazing 13-for-18 from the floor. Gruber also secured a career-high with 19 points and went 3-for-4 from long range. The freshman scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half.
The Timberwolves were led by Savannah Stedman with 16 points and four rebounds.
The ‘Cats shot 45.6 percent (26-for-57) from the floor and 20 percent (4-for-20) from three-point land.
NMU won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Northwood 39-26 on the glass.
“We played a great game tonight defensively, especially with the play from freshman center Brooke Coenen,” Mattson said. “She did an awesome job preventing Savannah (Stedman) from getting into her offense.”
The ‘Cats conclude the regular season this Saturday (Feb. 25) when they Saginaw Valley State. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.
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