Northern Michigan women’s hoops takes shot at No. 1 Ashland tonight in Marquette

MARQUETTE – When the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team knocked off perennial GLIAC basketball power Findlay on Dec. 9 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Wildcats head coach Troy Mattson kept turning to the word “incredible” to describe his team’s performance.

That word would be an understatement if the predominately freshman and sophomore Wildcats pull off an upset tonight of No. 1-ranked Ashland University in GLIAC action at 7:30 p.m. at the Berry Events Center.

The veteran Eagles, who lost in the NCAA Division II national championship game last year after sweeping the GLIAC regular season and tournament titles, sit atop the South Division and league at 6-0 and were a unanimous No. 1 selection in the latest USA Today/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association poll released on Dec. 18 at 13-0 overall.

Three players are averaging more than 10 points per game for Ashland with senior Kari Daugherty leading the way. The reigning GLIAC South Division Player of the Week is averaging 23.6 points and own the boards as well, taking down 15 rebounds per contest. Both numbers lead the league.

Daugherty transferred to Ashland last season from Division I Dayton and went on to win numerous league and national accolades, including the GLIAC Player of the Year award, GLIAC tournament’s most outstanding player honor, the WBCA national player of the year and the Honda Sports Award NCAA Division II Female Athlete of the Year award after leading all of Division II in double-doubles (27) and rebounding (14.1).

The Wildcats, at 7-3 overall, 4-2 in the GLIAC and a game out of first place in the North Division, are led by four underclassmen, with sophomore Lauren Gruber posting 12.8 points per game and sophomore Alyssa Colla averaging 11.

On the boards, freshman Nea Makela of Finland is averaging 6.1 rebounds while Abbey DeBruin averages 5.2.