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Strong Second Half Propels Wildcats to Victory over Lady Cardinals

Senior Briana Graham had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks against NMU
Senior Briana Graham had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks against NMU

MARQUETTE – The Saginaw Valley State University women's basketball team hit the road for a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division matchup at the Berry Events Center against the Northern Michigan University Wildcats on Thursday (Feb. 12) evening.  The Lady Cardinals trailed by five points at the half, but a strong second half from the Wildcats propelled the home team to 66-48 victory.  

SVSU was down by a slight 9-8 margin, but sophomore Emily Wendling connected on three-straight shots to give the Lady Cardinals a 14-9 lead with 10:28 showing on the game clock.

The Wildcats answered with five consecutive points themselves to knot the score at 14-14 at the 7:36 mark.  Senior Briana Graham then connected on a pair of free throws to give the visitors their last lead of the contest (16-14) with 6:27 to play in the opening half.

Junior Danielle Carriere's jump shot at the 4:50 marker put an end to a Northern Michigan 7-0 run and made the score 21-18.  With just less than three minutes to play in the half, senior Samantha Zirzow connected on a layup to bring the Cards within one-point at 21-20.

A pair of Wendling freebies made the score 26-24 with 57 seconds showing on the game clock but NMU made good on a three-pointer to round-out the scoring in the first half and sent the teams into the locker room with the score 29-24 in the home team's favor.

Wendling led the way in the first 20 minutes with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor.  Graham poured-in eight points and recorded three steals in the opening frame.

Northern Michigan picked up where it left off in the first half, scoring the first 10 points of the second half in the first 6:08 of play to take a 39-24 advantage.

Six straight points by SVSU, including buckets on back-to-back possessions by senior Shelby Herrington and freshman Jessica Alexander, brought the away team within single digits at 44-36.  That eight-point deficit was as close as the Lady Cardinals would get the remainder of the game.

Zirzow completed a three-point play coming out of the final media timeout of the game (4:57) to make the score 55-42.  Another three-point play by Alexander stopped a string of five straight from the Wildcats and made the scoreboard read 60-45 with 3:21 to play.

NMU opened its largest lead of the game at 19 points (64-45), but Alexander knocked down the Cardinals' only triple of the game to make the score 64-48 with 1:30 showing on the game clock.  A pair of free throws with 24 seconds left from the Wildcats closed out their 18-point victory.

Graham garnered Meijer "Player of the Game" honors for the second consecutive game.  The senior scored 11 points, including a 7-for-8 mark from the charity stripe.  She added four rebounds, four steals, two blocks and one assist as well.

Wendling recorded 14 points and five rebounds while Alexander chipped-in with 10 points, five boards and three assists.  Zirzow netted nine points in the contest as well.

SVSU out-scored NMU by a 20-14 margin in the paint and used seven offensive rebounds to score five second chance points.  The Wildcats scored 12 points off of 14 Cardinal turnovers.

Saginaw Valley (7-17, 2-16 GLIAC) remains in the Upper Peninsula for a matchup with the nationally 11th-ranked Michigan Tech Huskies (21-1, 17-1 GLIAC) on Saturday (Feb. 14) afternoon.  Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 pm at SDC Gym in Houghton.  The Huskies defeated the Cardinals by a score of 69-61 in the teams' first meeting at O'Neill Arena on January 24th.