By: Martin Schlegel
Despite being outshot in the first half, the Dragons played a strong defensive game and received plenty of help off the bench.
In a rare, Sunday women’s basketball matchup, MSUM defeated Northern Michigan 74-63.
The Dragons never trailed in this game despite Northern Michigan shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half.
“We still had some breakdowns defensively, but overall we’re going to take this just like we did two nights ago,” Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. “We just need to keep getting better.”
As the game progressed, MSUM showed comfort and poise while getting support from its role players.
Kiley Borowicz played valuable minutes for MSUM coming off the bench. She did a little bit of everything, leading the team in rebounds (5), steals (3) and scored nine points in 19 minutes.
“At one point, they weren’t guarding us. I thought, ‘well let’s put (Borowicz) in because she’s going to shoot it,’” Nelson said. “I was actually looking for some offense and lone behold, not only did she hit some shots but she got us some steals and five rebounds. I thought Kiley was a great lift.”
After a frantic looking first quarter in which MSUM shot 31 percent, the Dragons eventually found its rhythm offensively.
Nelson said the opening minutes looked out of sorts due to over-aggressive play.
“We had first game jitters against Michigan Tech,” Nelson said. “We tried to be more aggressive than we were two nights ago. I just felt like we had to be more aggressive”
Jacky Volkert started the game with a bang, draining a three on the Dragons first possession. Through the first quarter, the Dragons’ shooting was a little suspect as the team shot 31 percent.
The Dragons had a chance to break the game open early in the first quarter. The team had steals on two consecutive Northern Michigan possessions but couldn’t convert them into points. In the first half alone, MSUM scored just two points off turnovers.
It was especially egregious as Northern Michigan committed seven turnovers in the first half.
With the starters struggling to get much on offense, Borowicz’s seven points in the first half was a lift for the team.
The third quarter started with a three-pointer from Volkert. After shooting 1-of-3 on three-pointers in the first half, she shot 2-of-5 in the second half. Volkert ended the game with a team-high 16 points and 8 assists.
“We started running some sets that opened up Cass, our three-point shooter, and Kiley Borowicz,” Volkert said. “We got a few looks off that and a few pick and pops. The three-point line opened up as well as the driving lanes.”
The Wildcats made it close with under two minutes left in the game. Sydney Dillinger hit a three from the corner and three seconds later Lexi Smith scored on a layup. It was the closest the Wildcats came to taking a lead since the opening minutes of the third quarter when the team trailed by four.
It was as close as Northern Michigan would get, however. The Dragons hit four free throws to close out the game and seal the victory.
“I still think it’s a work in progress,” Nelson said reflecting on the previous game. “From Thursday to tonight, I felt like our effort was a little bit better. At least tonight we came out more aggressive than Thursday and took some chances.”