The Wayne State women’s basketball team improved to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in NSIC South Division action with a pair of weekend wins at Upper Iowa.
On Friday night, senior guard Halley Busse poured in a game-high 23 points to go with eight assists to lead the Wildcat ladies to a 84-79 win over the Lady Peacocks.
The Wildcats used strong shooting in the first quarter to take a 25-19 lead as Wayne State made 9-of-17 from the field and 3-for-6 shots behind the arc. Busse had eight first quarter points to lead the Wildcats.
The second quarter featured scoring runs by both clubs, but it was a second Wayne State scoring run to end the half that gave the Wildcats a double-figure lead at intermission. Erin Norling’s basket at the 5:29 mark gave Wayne State its biggest lead of the game at 36-24 midway through the second quarter.
The host Peacocks used an 11-2 run to reduce the Wildcat advantage to three at 38-35 with 3:50 to play in the first half, but Wayne State responded with the next eight points and took a 46-35 lead before using a Halley Busse 3-pointer with two seconds left in the half to give the Wildcats a 49-38 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats held a 58-48 lead with 6:17 to play third quarter, but UIU closed to within four at 58-54 before Wayne State closed the quarter with a 64-57 lead.
Wayne State held a pair of eight point leads in the fourth quarter with the final one coming at 74-66 following a Busse three-point play with 6:10 to go. UIU got as close as three at 74-71 with 3:37 left. Wayne State built the lead back to seven in the final minute and came away with the victory.
Busse had 18 of her game-high 23 points in the first half to lead all scorers in the contest. Senior forward Erin Norling chipped in 17 points to move past two former Wildcat greats and now ranks eighth in all-time scoring at Wayne State with 1,453 points. Norling jumped ahead of Ashton Yossi (1,444 points from 2011-15) and Paige Ballinger (1,448 points from 2014-18) to enter the eighth spot in all-time scoring at Wayne State.
Josey Ryan added 15 points with Autumn Mlinar scoring 12 for her sixth straight game in double digits.
Wayne State held a slim 43-41 edge in rebounding thanks to nine boards from Norling, who also had four assists and two blocked shots on the night. Busse handed out eight of Wayne State’s 17 assists.
On Saturday, Wayne State outscored Upper Iowa 26-16 in the fourth quarter, closing with a 12-4 run over the final five minutes to post a 78-70 win and get the weekend sweep.
The Wildcats trailed most of the first quarter, but used nine straight points late in the quarter to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 19-17 lead after 10 minutes of play. Wayne State used four 3-pointers for 12 of their 20 points scored in the second quarter. The Wildcats never led by more than five and used a Kylie Hammer layup to end the half for a 39-34 lead.
Wayne State built an early seven point lead in the third quarter, 46-39 with 6:43 to go in the quarter, but went ice cold from the field the rest of the quarter as Upper Iowa stormed back to tie the score at 48-48 and took a 54-52 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Upper Iowa took their biggest lead of the game making the first basket in the fourth quarter for a 56-52 lead. Wayne State then used back-to-back 3-pointers from Halley Busse and a layup from Hammer to gain a 60-58 lead with 7:33 remaining.
With the score tied at 66-66 with 5:21 to play, the Wildcats got a basket from Autumn Mlinar followed by a 3-pointer from Erin Norling to take the lead for good at 71-66. A Mlinar 3-pointer gave Wayne State a 74-68 lead and the Wildcats made 4-6 free throws late to preserve the win.
Norling scored 19 points and added 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season to lead a balanced Wildcat attack. Hammer followed with 17 points, Busse added 13 and Mlinar scored 12.
Wayne State dominated UIU on the glass with a 52-26 advantage that included 17 offensive rebounds by the Wildcats. Norling’s 12 boards led Wayne State followed by Mlinar with nine and Brittany Bongartz eight. Hammer led Wayne State with four assists and also had a team-high three blocked shots.
The Wildcats will be at home next weekend, hosting Winona State in NSIC South Division games Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Rice Auditorium.
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