Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's basketball squad couldn't hold off a Northern Michigan comeback as the Bulldogs fell 79-74 in overtime on Saturday (Feb. 7) in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 16 points with 8:51 to play in the second half before the Wildcats rallied to force overtime. NMU then outscored FSU 17-12 in the extra five minutes to pull out the win.
Ferris State fell to 9-11 overall and 7-10 in the GLIAC with the loss while the Wildcats improved to 13-8 overall and 11-6 in conference action.
The Bulldogs put together a stellar defensive performance in the opening half as FSU limited NMU to only 14 points in posting a 23-14 edge at the break.
In the opening half, the Bulldogs forced 12 NMU miscues while hodling an 11-3 advantage in points off turnovers in the opening stanza.
However, in the second half the Wildcats forced more miscues as FSU finished with 25 turnovers on the day while Northern Michigan recorded a 25-19 edge in points off them overall.
Despite the turnovers, the Bulldogs led by double figures throughout much of the second half before a three-point play the old fashioned way by NMU's Lauren Gruber with just over five minutes to play cut the Bulldogs' lead to six.
Shortly after, a FSU turnover led to a Abbey DeBruin layup as Northern Michigan trimmed the Bulldogs' lead to 54-49 with 3:42 to play. The Wildcats continued to chip away at the Ferris State lead with Nea Makela connecting on a triple with just over a minute to play to cut the Bulldogs' lead to only a single basket.
From there, the two squads exchanged a pair of free throws, giving the Bulldogs a 60-58 lead. The Bulldogs continued to knock down their free throw attempts with Branch hitting a pair with 23 seconds left to push FSU in front by four points.
However, NMU's Alyssa Colla answered with a runner to cut the Bulldogs' lead to two before a turnover led to a Wildcats' layup by Gruber with one second to play. A half court desperation heave by FSU junior guard Destiney Robinson came up short as time expired and the two teams headed to overtime.
The two squads exchanged blows in the extra session, but the Wildcats were too much at the line down the stretch as they pulled out the victory by outscoring FSU 17-12 in the final frame.
Overall, the Bulldogs shot 48.1% from the floor and connected on 7-of-18 (38.9%) from the three-point line. The Bulldogs had an outstanding day at the line shooting 17-of-18 (94.4%).
Meanwhile, the Wildcats shot 43.1% from the field and netted just 6-of-27 (22.2%) three-point attempts. NMU finished the afternoon shooting 23-of-26 (88.5%) from the free throw stripe, while hitting on 7-of-7 in overtime.
The Bulldogs were led by Branch, who finished with 21 points and 10 boards to record her fifth double-double of the season. Robinson finished the game with 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the three-point line. Finally, junior guard Katie Mavis chipped in 14 points and added five assists.
NMU was led offensively by Gruber, who had a game-high 27 points to go along with seven boards, three assists and four steals. DeBruin finished the contest with 18 points while Bre Gaspervich and Colla chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Wildcats. Colla also added seven rebounds and seven assists.
The Wildcats outrebounded the Bulldogs 32-29 for the day and held a 14-7 margin on the offensive glass. It gave the Wildcats a 16-4 advantage in second chance points. Each team finished the afternoon with two blocks and 12 steals.
Ferris State will hit the road to open a three-game league road swing as FSU visits Northwood on Thursday, Feb. 12, for a 6 p.m. (ET) tipoff at the Bennett Sports Center in Midland. The Bulldogs have five games remaining in the regular season.