HILLSDALE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University (10-6, 8-4 GLIAC) battled with Hillsdale from wire to wire but ultimately came away with the 57-54 victory. Northern Michigan went 24-29 (.828) from the charity stripe making their final three free throws to pull away in the final minute. Senior guard Lauren Gruber paced the Wildcats with a game-high 24 points shooting 6-11 (.545) from the field and going 11-13 (.846) from the free throw line.
Senior guard Alyssa Colla would make a layup with 9:38 remaining in the half to bring the score to 10-9 before Hillsdale went on a 13-4 run to extend their lead to 23-13 with 5:41 remaining in the half, the largest lead of the game for the Chargers. NMU answered scoring the next nine points to cut the deficit down to one before bringing the game to a 27-27 tie heading into the locker room.
Colla and Gruer each scored eight points in the opening half to lead NMU with senior forward Nea Makela pulling down a team-high four rebounds.
Hillsdale came out of the locker rooms and was able to take the early lead, but Northern Michigan used a 13-1 run to take their largest lead of the game at 48-41 with 4:48 remaining in the contest. The Chargers answered scoring 11 of the next 14 points to retake the lead at 52-51 and 1:55 on the clock. The Hillsdale lead wouldn’t last long as a three point play from Gruber in the next possession gave NMU a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the remainder of the game.
Northern would go 3-4 on free throws in the final minute, while the defense stood tall to clinch the 57-54 victory.
The Wildcats were out-rebounded in the contest 34-28 but made up for it by outscoring the Chargers in the paint by a 24-18 margin. NMU also held the edge in points off turnovers scoring 13 points off of 17 Hillsdale turnovers.
Northern Michigan returns to the Berry Events Center next weekend where they host Lake Superior State Thursday, Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. and Northwood Saturday, Jan. 31 at 11 a.m.
(Information/Photo Courtesy of NMU Athletics)