HILLSDALE, Mich. (WLUC) – The Northern Michigan University Women's Basketball team defeated #25 Lewis University 62-56 to win the season opener as part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference/Great Lakes Valley Conference Challenge hosted by Hillsdale College.
The victory is the first win for the team over a ranked opponent since they defeated #10 Lewis 75-66 on November 24, 2013.
The Wildcats were led by senior Darby Youngstrom (Cook, Minn.) who scored 18 points, including 5-5 from the free throw line in her first game since injury cut her junior year short. She also grabbed five rebounds.
Senior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) hit three three-pointers and had 11 points to tie a career-high and junior Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis.) notched nine points.
Off the bench, senior Tess Weatherly (Howell, Mich.) came in to give NMU eight points while junior Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) finished with a team-best seven rebounds.
THE FIRST QUARTER
Defense proved important early as the game went nearly 2:30 before Schultz made a layup for the first points of the game. The Flyers answered with four points but Smith responded to make the score 4-4 with just under six minutes to go in the first quarter. Weatherly then sank her first three-pointer but Lewis followed with a three of their own making the score 7-7 at the first media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Smith made a layup but Lewis made two free throws right away to tie the game once again. Youngstrom responded with a three-pointer with 3:22 to go in the quarter and made the score 12-9. Lewis then hit a free throw and a jumper to force another tie, 12-12 with just over two minutes to go.
On the next possession, Youngstrom made two free throws, but the Flyers made a three-pointer for the final points of the first quarter and took a 15-14 lead after ten minutes.
THE SECOND QUARTER
Lewis opened the second quarter with a three-pointer but Weatherly followed with a jumper. Nearly two minutes later, Dillinger made her first three of the night and gave NMU back the lead, 19-18, with 7:37 on the clock. Senior Taylor Hodell (Wausau, Wis.) extended the Wildcat lead with a three-point play and Youngstrom hit a layup for the largest lead of the game, 24-18 with 6:28 left in the first half.
After Lewis hit a basket, Weatherly made a three-pointer and made it 27-20 with five minutes left. Lewis closed the half on a 5-0 run and the Wildcats went into halftime with a 27-20 lead.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Dillinger opened the second half with a three and Schultz hit a jumper to push NMU back up seven. The Flyers responded with a basket but Youngstrom answered with a layup with 6:06 left. A minute later, Lewis converted a three-point play before Youngstrom sank two free throws and made the score 37-31 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Flyers scored four points and after a Smith free throw, Lewis made another jumper, but Smith sank two more free throws, moving the lead to 40-37 with 2:42 left. Lewis then made a jumper but two Hodell free throws closed out the quarter with NMU leading 42-39 as the teams prepared for the fourth quarter.
THE FINAL QUARTER
Schultz started the quarter with a jumper, but Lewis answered with a basket of their own. Smith then pushed the lead up to five with a jumper and Dillinger made another three to make it 49-41 with 6:52 to play.
Lewis made a three a minute later, and Youngstrom traded baskets with the Flyers before sinking two more free throws, making it 53-46 at the 4:07 mark. Lewis made two free throws but Schultz and Youngstrom responded with layups to make it 57-48 with two minutes to go.
The Flyers made two free throws and a layup before Schultz slowed the Lewis run with a layup, moving the score to 59-52 with 29 seconds to go. Lewis made a layup, and sophomore Elizabeth Lutz (Marshall, Wis.) made a free throw. After another Lewis layup, Dillinger made two free throws with seven seconds left to make it 62-56 and seal the victory for NMU.
With the win, NMU moves to 1-0 on the season. The Wildcats return to action Sunday as they take on the University of Indianapolis in their second game of the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge.