February 8, 2014

Wildcats Hold On For Victory As Final Bulldog Shot Bounces Off Rim

Big Rapids, Mich. - A long-range shot from near half court as the final buzzer sounded bounced off the rim as Northern Michigan escaped with a 52-49 triumph over Ferris State in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) women's basketball action on Saturday (Feb. 8) afternoon inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The visiting Wildcats battled back from a three-point halftime deficit in a low scoring contest as both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket most of the day. 

The Wildcats grabbed a three-point lead on a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to play after FSU was forced to foul. A potential game-tying three-pointer from the Bulldogs in the final 10 seconds was blocked away and the Bulldogs again had to send NMU to the stripe.

But, a missed Wildcat free throw from Alyssa Colla gave Ferris State one final opportunity and senior guard Sarah DeShone's heave from halfcourt just missed as she hit the front side of the rim as time expired.

The Northern Michigan win avenged an earlier Bulldog victory in Marquette on Jan. 18 as the two teams split the regular-season series in GLIAC North Division play.

FSU led early by as many as six points in the opening half only two minutes into the game before Northern Michigan bounced back. The game was nearly even from that point forward as the lead changed hands five times, the score was tied four times and neither team led by more than seven points the rest of the way.

Ferris State was limited to only 30.5% shooting, but the Wildcats didn't fare much better as they shot 38.3% for the afternoon. The Bulldogs hit only eight-of-30 (26.7%) tries in the final 20 minutes of action and were five-of-20 (25%) from downtown compared to NMU's six-of-25 (24%) showing beyond the arc.

Both teams also struggled at the free throw line with FSU finishing eight-of-14 (57.1%) and the Wildcats making only 10-of-18 (55.6%) tries.

Sophomore guard Dena Droste paced the Bulldogs with a game-high tying 14 points on the day, however she was limited to only three points in the second half. She made four-of-six three's in the game.

Besides Droste, though, the only other FSU player to reach double-digits was sophomore forward Christina Branch, who finished with 13 points and a contest-best 11 rebounds in a double-double effort. DeShone scored seven points as the Wildcats limited her to only two-of-13 shooting, including only a single make in nine three-point tries.

Meanwhile, Lauren Gruber paced the Wildcats' offensively with 14 points to go with six rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes of action. Colla also placed all 40 minutes and had 12 points with five assists while Abbey DeBruin totaled eight points and seven rebounds with two blocked shots.

The Wildcats outrebounded FSU 40-36 for the day although Ferris State netted 14 offensive boards to 11 for NMU, which helped the Bulldogs own a 11-7 edge in second chance production.  

FSU also had only 10 turnovers in the game compared to 15 for Northern Michigan while outscoring NMU 15-7 in points off miscues.

DeShone totaled four assists in leading the Bulldogs in that category as both teams finished with 13 helpers. The Bulldogs also had five steals and a block with NMU totaling five blocks and three steals.

With the win, Northern Michigan improved to 14-7 overall and 11-6 in GLIAC play while FSU fell to 6-12 overall and 6-10 in conference action.

Ferris State will hit the road for its next two GLIAC contests as the Bulldogs visit Northwood on Thursday (Feb. 13) for a 6 p.m. (ET) league game in Midland followed by a trip to Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday (Feb. 15) to face Lake Superior State beginning at 1 p.m. (ET).

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