ASHLAND, Ohio – An early second half comeback by the Northern Michigan women’s basketball team fell short Wednesday night (Feb. 29), as the Wildcats dropped a 76-56 contest to No. 4 Ashland in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Quarterfinal.
The loss ends NMU’s season, with the ‘Cats finishing at 13-14 overall with a 9-10 mark in the GLIAC. With the win, Ashland improves to 26-1 on the season and will host the remainder of the conference tournament beginning with the semifinals this Friday (Mar. 2).
“We played a great game tonight,” head coach Troy Mattson. “We limited their top three scorers to just 29 combined points tonight compared to the 56 points we gave up two weeks ago when we last played Ashland.”
Ashland jumped out quickly to a double-digit lead, taking a 20-8 advantage with a layup from Lindsay Tenyak with 13:33 left in the half. NMU went on a small run to get within four points less than five minutes later when freshman guard Lauren Gruber nailed a jumper in the paint.
The Eagles responded though, piecing a 22-10 run together to take a 45-29 lead into the break.
“It seemed every time we would put together a run and get within nine or 10 points, Ashland would come back with a pair of three-pointers,” Mattson said.
The ‘Cats slowly began to chip away at the deficit to start the second half, cutting the Eagles lead to 50-41 with 13:55 left in regulation when senior forward Hillary Bowling netted a layup. That would be as close as NMU would get, as Ashland strung together one final run to put it over the top.
NMU was led by senior guard Chelsea Lyons with 29 points, five rebounds and three assists. The senior wraps up her career at NMU with 790 points. Freshman guard Alyssa Colla concluded a successful rookie season with eight points and four boards.
“Chelsea (Lyons) played great tonight and was really a tough player out there on the court,” Mattson said. “She had such a successful season.”
The Eagles were paced by Lindsay Tenyak with 23 points.
NMU shot only 40.7 percent (24-for-59) from the floor and was held in check from long range, going 0-for-8 from three-point land.
“I’m proud of the way Chelsea (Lyons) and Hillary (Bowling) played. They set a great example for the freshman class and showcased how to be good players on and off the court.”
The Eagles held a plus eight advantage on the glass, edging the ‘Cats 36-28.
“The future is bright for the program and I’m excited to be coaching these players,” Mattson said.
Check back in the weeks to come for a season recap.
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