MARQUETTE, Mi. Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball defeated Purdue University Northwest 76-38 to start Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at 3-0. The Wildcats are off to their best start since the 2013-14 season while the 38 points are the fewest allowed since the 2016-17 season.
Senior Darby Youngstrom (Cook, Minn.) paced the offense with 16 points, hitting three three-pointers. Junior Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) added 13 points. The pair both finished 6-7 from the field.
Freshman Emily Mueller (Fond du Lac, Wis.) posted eight points while junior Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) and sophomore Amber Huebner (Marquette, Mich.) both had seven points. Honkala had a team-best 11 rebounds with Mueller chipping in with 7. Junior CeCe Rapp (St. Charles, Ill.) grabbed eight rebounds.
Senior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) dished out five assists for a season-high.
Defensively, NMU held the Pride to just 22.4% shooting on the night. At the half, PNW was shooting 16% and just 8% from the three-point line. The 38 points is the second time in a week that the NMU defense has allowed less than 40 points. It is also the fewest points allowed since the 2016-17 season in a 55-38 victory over Lake Superior State University.
BUILDING A LEAD
Sophomore Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis.) hit two free throws early to give NMU a lead. Youngstrom soon added a three to make it 5-0 at the 8:19 mark. After a three from PNW, Youngstrom converted a three-point play and then hit her second three to make it 11-3 just three minutes into the game.
At the four-minute mark, Honkala made a layup followed by a three-pointer from Schultz and the score was 16-3 with 3:15 to play. The Pride made two free throws, but Schultz responded with a layup, and made another layup to answer a PNW jumper. At the end of the quarter, Youngstrom made her third three of the day and made the score 23-7 after the first quarter.
EXTENDING THE LEAD
Schultz opened the second quarter with a layup followed by a layup and jumper from Smith and the score was 29-7 less than two minutes into the quarter. The Pride made a free throw, which Honkala followed with her own free throw. The guests then hit a jumper but senior Taylor Hodell (Wausau, Wis.) answered with two layups to move the score to 34-10 with six minutes left in the half.
Huebner continued the rally with a make behind the arc before PNW sank two free throws with three minutes to go in the half. Senior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.) followed with a three before PNW made a layup with a minute left to close the first half with NMU leading 40-14.
THE SECOND HALF
Mueller and Schultz started the second half with layups and Mueller added a free throw while Schultz made another layup to make the score 47-14 with 8:30 to go in the quarter. The Pride scored their first basket, but Youngstrom responded with jumper and a layup and pushed the lead to 51-16 until 3:03 on the clock when Honkala added two jumpers. PNW scored two more baskets, but Rapp added a score and the score was 57-20 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The teams stayed even for the fourth quarter as NMU cruised to a 76-38 victory.
The Wildcats improve to 8-2 on the season and 3-0 in the GLIAC and are off to their best start to a season since the 2013-14 team started the year 11-2. The Pride fall to 2-6 on the year and 0-3 in the GLIAC. NMU returns to action Saturday afternoon and will host University of Wisconsin-Parkside at 1 p.m. in the Berry Events Center, hosted by Peoples State Bank of Munising.