By BRIAN LESTER
In a tight game, defense can make the difference in deciding the outcome of a game.
When it mattered most Saturday afternoon, the University of Findlay women’s basketball team was unable to make the key defensive plays, which led to a 71-66 loss to Northern Michigan in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game at Croy Gymnasium.
The Wildcats got a 3-pointer from Alyssa Colla that broke a 64-64 tie and four free throws in the final 13 seconds sealed the fate of the Oilers
It’s the second straight game where UF has had a late lead but couldn’t hold on.
“We have no pride on defense right now,” UF head coach Jim Wiedie said. “We can’t stop people when we need to make the plays and Northern was able to come up with some shots to get the win. Until we learn to take pride in playing defense, we are going to be an average team.”
It appeared the Oilers (4-2, 2-2 GLIAC) had momentum late in the game.
Karli Bonar had just drilled a 3-pointer to give the Oilers a 62-55 lead with 5:54 to play and the team was energized by the big shot.
But the Wildcats capitalized on the Oilers’ defensive struggles over the final five minutes. Sarah Miller nailed a 3-pointer to cut the UF lead to 62-60 and Colla tied the game at 64-64 as she drove the lane and scored.
Colla broke the tie moments later and the Oilers were unable to answer.
“Everyone has to guard their player, and then if she gets by you, someone else can slide over and help,” Wiedie said. “We aren’t doing that right now. We can’t have the mindset that we are going to score 80 every game and win that way. We have to be able to play better defense.”
The Oilers fell behind 16-11 early against the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0).
But the momentum soon shifted. Ashley Andrews and Alyssa Grevenkamp each nailed a trey and the Oilers were within 19-17. A 3-pointer by Nikki Gunning put UF in front 22-21.
Karli Beasley drove for a layup for a 27-25 lead and nailed a trey moments later for a 30-25 edge. UF, which made 10 treys on the day, led 35-31 at halftime.
The Oilers picked up where they left off in the second half. Margaret Wuebker was fouled as she scored on a layup and hit the free throw to give UF a 38-31 lead. A reverse layup by Andrews and a 3-pointer by Bonar extended the UF lead to 43-31.
UF had a 50-42 advantage after a Ciara Geiger 3-pointer but it was back-and-forth the rest of the way.
Wiedie said he felt like his team was in good shape in the second half because the Oilers had grabbed the momentum with several runs on a day when they shot 41 percent (25-of-61) from the field.
“We had some nice stretches where we hit some shots and got on a roll a little bit,” Wiedie said. “But I’m disappointed in the way we played defense. It’s very frustrating.”
Wuebker played well as she clicked for a career-high 21 points. She also pulled down seven rebounds in a game that featured five ties and six lead changes.
Wuebker was the only player in double figures for the Oilers, who were without former Riverdale standout Lacey Kessler. Kessler, who leads the Oilers in scoring (13.2 points per game), sat out with a concussion. She hit the back of her head on the floor during Thursday’s loss to Michigan Tech.
Lauren Gruber paced the Wildcats with 16 points. Annie Rubendunst added 13 points. The Wildcats shot 44.4 percent (25-of-54) from the field and made 10 treys as well.
The Oilers back in action Thursday when they head to Florida to battle St. Thomas.
“Our practices have been more offensive-oriented this year, but we might not see a ball in practice until we start playing better on defense,” Wieide said. “Our emphasis will be on defense. Our players are going to learn how to play better on defense. We can’t be successful unless we do that.”
northern michigan (6-1, 3-0 GLIAC)
Makela 5-11 0-0 11, DeBruin 2-5 0-0 4, Colla 3-11 4-4 11, Gruber 4-7 6-6 16, Miller 3-7 0-0 9, Gaspervich 0-0 0-0 0, Rubendunst 5-8 0-0 13, Matkovich 0-2 0-0 0, Coenen 2-3 3-4 7. TOTALS: 24-54 13-14–71.
findlay (4-2, 2-2 GLIAC)
Wuebker 9-16 3-5 21, Lewis 0-2 0-0 0, Beasley 2-7 0-0 5, Andrews 3-7 0-0 7, Bonar 3-8 0-0 9, Klein 1-1 0-0 2, Kenny 2-4 1-2 6, Klausing 0-2 0-0 0, Gunning 2-7 2-2 7, Geiger 2-6 0-0 6, Grevenkamp 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 25-61 10-24–66.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 35-31.
3-Point GOALS: Northern Michigan 10-23 (Rubendunst 3-5, Miller 3-6, Gruber 2-5, Makela 1-3, Colla 1-3, Matkovich 0-1); Findlay 10-24 (Bonar 3-8, Geiger 2-4, Kenny 1-1, Grevenkamp 1-1, Gunning 1-3, Beasley 1-3, Andrews 1-4)
rebounds: Northern Michigan 29 (Rubendunst 6); Findlay 32 (Wuebker 7, Beasley & Kenny 5). ASSISTS: Northern Michigan 17 (Colal 7); Findlay 16 (Beasley 5). STEALS: Northern Michigan 4 (Colla 3); Findlay 9 (Andrews 2). BLOCKS: Northern Michigan 5 (Makela 3); Findlay 4 (Wuebker & Lewis 4).
TURNOVERS: Northern Michigan 11, Findlay 10. TOTAL FOULS: Northern Michigan 14, Findlay 15. FOULED OUT: None.
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