MARQUETTE, Mi. Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball scored a season-high 71 points to defeat Minnesota State University-Mankato 71-51 Friday afternoon in a nonconference matchup.
Pacing the Wildcat offense was sophomore Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis.) who finished with a season-high 24 points on 8-9 shooting, including 3-3 from the three-point line, and 5-7 from the free throw line. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
Junior Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) chipped in with 10 points and a team-best four assists. Senior Darby Youngstrom (Cook, Minn.) and junior Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) both had seven points. Youngstrom added three steals while Honkala finished with a season-high 10 rebounds.
Honkala and Schultz both tallied two blocked shots as well.
As a team, the Wildcats hit a season-best nine three-pointers and also finished with 24 free throws, drawing 27 fouls on the day. Defensively, NMU held the Mavericks to 30.9% from the field and 23.5% from the three-point line.
THE FIRST QUARTER
Smith started the game with a three-pointer and a layup. After an MSU basket, Schultz and Honkala made two baskets to give NMU a 10-2 lead just over two minutes into the game.
The Mavericks made a free throw to make it 10-3 at the media timeout. Out of the timeout, Smith made a layup and followed an MSU basketball with another three. She then added another basket to move the score to 17-5 with three minutes to play in the quarter. The guests managed to score one more time before the end of the frame and the Wildcats led 17-7 after the first quarter.
THE SECOND QUARTER
The team's played through a draw for the first three minutes of the quarter until junior Baleigh Delorit (Algoma, Wis.) hit a three to make it 20-7. MSU responded with a basket but Hodell followed with a layup. The Mavericks then hit a three but Honkala answered with a three of her own and made the score 25-12 with just over five minutes left to play in the half.
Honkala added another jumper at the 3:47 mark. MSU followed with five points to narrow the lead before senior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) sank two free throws and Delorit hit her second three-pointer of the day, giving NMU a 32-17 lead with 1:44 left in the half.
Freshman Emily Mueller (Fond du Lac, Wis.) added a layup before the end of the half while MSU chipped into the lead, and the Wildcats went into the break leading 34-21.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Smith extended the lead with a basket early in the third quarter. After the guests hit a three, Schultz answered with a three and made the score 39-24 at the 8:06 mark. MSU was able to cut into the lead and made it 39-30 but Smith stopped the MSU run with a layup.
Schultz, Youngstrom and Smith all sank free throws and moved the score to 45-34 with 2:15 on the clock when Hodell made a basket and Dillinger added two more free throws and made it 49-34 with just over a minute to play. Hodell ended the quarter with two more free throws for NMU and the Wildcats took a 51-36 advantage into the final quarter.
THE FINAL QUARTER
The final frame started with Schultz hitting two free throws. After an MSU basket, Smith hit another free throw, and Youngstrom sank two more free throws after a Maverick score to make it 56-42 with less than six minutes left in the game.
The Mavericks cut it down to 56-45 when Smith hit her third three of the day. Schultz followed with a free throw to make it 60-49 after MSU scored twice. Smith, Youngstrom and Dillinger each added two more free throws before the next MSU score to make it 66-49 with a little over two minutes to play.
Youngstrom made two more free throws and Dillinger hit a three from the corner to answer two MSU free throws while the defense kept the visitors from scoring again and the Wildcats captured the 71-51 win.
The Wildcats improve to 3-1 on the season and will return to action Sunday morning to host Minnesota State University-Moorhead at 11 a.m. inside the Berry Events Center.