MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Northern Michigan University's Women's Basketball Team holds their home opener and opens their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule this week as they welcome Northwood University and Saginaw Valley State University to the Berry Events Center.
The Wildcats host Northwood Thursday night at 8 p.m. in a game hosted by Econo Foods. Saturday's contest with Saginaw Valley is hosted by Peoples State Bank. Fans interested in attending the games can receive free tickets by visiting each Game Host.
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Last time out: The Wildcats split two games this past weekend at the Bellarmine University Thanksgiving Classic. A 21-10 fourth quarter powered the Wildcats to a 63-55 victory over the hosts Saturday evening. On Sunday, NMU held a 24-22 lead over the 17th ranked University of Southern Indiana but it wasn't enough as the Eagles captured a 59-49 victory.
Honkala's big weekend: Sophomore Erin Honkala (Howell, Mich.) averaged a double-double this weekend averaging 13.5 rebounds and 10 points in two games. In Saturday's win over Bellarmine, Honkala posted a career-high 15 rebounds along with eight points. She added six steals and five blocked shots to her night. On Sunday, she posted 12 points with 12 boards and notched three more blocked shots and two steals.
Youngstrom's nearly perfect: Junior Darby Youngstrom (Cook, Minn./North Woods) made 19 of 20 free throws over the weekend. On Saturday, she went 9 of 10 from the free throw line, and followed Sunday going 10 of 10. On the season, Youngstrom has made 32 of 33 free throws. Youngstrom has made her last 17-straight free throws after starting the season 15-15 from the charity stripe.
Rebounding margin: NMU outrebounded their opponents by over six boards a game this weekend, holding a 36.5-30.5 edge. Honkala led the team with 27 total rebounds, and freshman Lexi Smith (St. Germain, Wis./Northland Pines), Youngstrom and junior Sydney Dillinger (Houghton, Mich.) each added eight. Smith and Honkala led the Wildcats with five offensive rebounds apiece. Honkala leads the Wildcats with 6.7 rebounds per game this season, and her 13 offensive rebounds trail only junior Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) who has grabbed 18.
Freshman impact: Smith and freshman Elizabeth Lutz (Marshall, Wis.) have made an immediate impact to the team as both have started the past five games. Lutz has teamed with freshman Amber Huebner (Marquette, Mich.) to provide the Wildcats with nearly 40 minutes a game of point guard play. The pair has averaged 6.6 points a game and has given NMU a total 13 assists and nine steals. Smith is third on the team with an average of 8.3 points a game and is tied for the team's lead with 11 assists this season.
Sibling Rivalry: In Saturday's matchup against Saginaw Valley, junior Emily Schramek (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) will have extra incentive as she will play against her sister for the first time in their careers. Her sister, Kendal, is a freshman for the Cardinals.
NMU versus Northwood: The Wildcats hold a 45-18 edge over the Timberwolves all-time, but have dropped three of the last four matchups. In last season's game in Marquette, Michigan, NMU came away with a 70-50 win. This year, Northwood is currently on a three-game win streak, having defeated Lewis University and the University of Indianapolis during the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge. They then bested Malone University last week.
NMU versus Saginaw Valley: SVSU won three matchups last season against the Wildcats, including a 62-45 victory in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinals. In the all-time series, NMU holds a 47-29 advantage. The Cardinals enter this week looking for their first victory after losing several top performers from last season's squad.