BELIEVE IT!!! Bay Women Stun #13 Mid Michigan

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos from the game, and to hear post-game comments from Coach Todd Ciochetto, and sophomores Leah Allan and Emma Rutter. Also click the AUDIO button for Siena Lingle's halftime interview

The smiles were wide as the Bay College Norse women's basketball players returned to the huddle after arguably the biggest win in the seven-year history of the program.

They had just shook hands with the players of one of the best teams in the nation, the Mid Michigan College Lakers, after they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Midwest this season, 73-66, before a large and boisterous crowd inside the Bay College Gym.

The Norse handed the defending conference and regional champion Lakers their first loss of this season, ending Mid Michigan's 19-game winning streak. It extended Bay's winning streak to eleven games, and put the Norse all alone in first place in the MCCAA North Conference standings.

“I'm so happy right now,” Norse sophomore Emma Rutter said. “I wanted this game all week, all season. I had it circled on my calendar. I'm beyond happy right now. I'm so proud of all of us.”

“I'm super-happy and so proud of the team,” Norse sophomore Leah Allan added. “Everyone showed up today. We did what we needed to do. Everyone needed to step up, including myself. They're a great team, and we needed to show up and stop them. We talked the last few days about how to guard them, and everybody figured that out.”

This win continues a remarkable turnaround for the Norse under first year coach Todd Ciochetto, after the team struggled in their first eleven games with a 4-7 record. Now, they've won eleven straight games, with this one being that signature victory that will be noticed around the country.

“We're a good basketball team now, they're a good basketball team, and it was just a good college basketball game,” Ciochetto said. “It was a great crowd, and I want even bigger crowds, I'll get the Norse Force crowds going. Hopefully, we gave them a product that they will want to come back and see some more games.”

The intensity was evident from the opening tip-off, with the Norse looking to prove that their ten-game winning streak was no fluke.

Mid Michigan is the defending MCCAA North Conference champion, MCCAA State champion, and NJCAA Region 12 champion. And this season, the Lakers had a 19-0 record, and was ranked 13th in the nation in the latest NJCAA Division Two poll.

“They're a good team,” Rutter said. “We've been preparing hard for them. But we wanted it more. We worked harder for it. It started off, I think there were some nerves. But we settled down and we locked in, and I mean, honestly, we still did a lot wrong. But that just shows how good we are, and how good we're going to be.”

Allan set the tone early by making three triples in the first quarter, plus she made a lay-up inside, scoring eleven points to help the Norse take a 22-18 lead after the first quarter.

Mid Michigan, however, started the second quarter on an 11-2 run to take a 29-24 lead, following lay-ups by Paige Ebels, Addysen Grey, and Chloe Watson.

But Norse freshman Siena Lingle nailed a triple and made an “and-one” basket as Bay responded with a 10-2 run of its own, taking a 34-31 lead at halftime.

Lingle continued to pace the Norse in the third quarter with seven straight points, part of a 14-4 spurt that saw Bay take a 48-35 lead. That added up to Bay outscoring Mid Michigan, 24-6, over the final half of the second quarter and first half of the third quarter. It was the defense, moreso than the offense, that paced that turnaround.

Ciochetto says that Kennedy Sproule, who set a school record by scoring 45 points in Wednesday's win over Kirtland Community College, was a key component to his team's defense in this one.

“Kennedy was not good in the first half and we challenged her in the second half,” Ciochetto said. “They took her away (offensively) and that's OK. But defensively, she got so much better in the second half. She got tough, rebounded, controlled the rebounds. She stepped up when we needed her to.”

It seemed that everyone stepped up at key moments as Mid Michigan kept battling back every time the Norse started to pull away. The Lakers closed to within 58-54 with 6:55 left in the game on a Rachel Resio lay-up, but Jada Freudinger buried a triple to restore the seven-point lead. Then after Watson drained a triple to make it 61-57, Freudinger made another three, making it 64-57.

Freudinger is normally inside the paint, but Ciochetto says no one should be surprised that she made those triples.

“We've had to put her inside on the dribble-drive, and that's why she hasn't showed that, but she can shoot it,” Ciochetto said. “And she is so, so, so good defensively.”

And then Rutter, with the shot clock winding down, lofted a triple from the left corner, near the Norse bench. She banked it in off the window, giving Bay a 67-57 lead with 5:28 to play.

“It felt good when I let it go, but then I was like, whoa, it's gonna hit the backboard,” Rutter said, then added with a laugh. “We'll just say I called 'board'.”

All of the girls had to weather the storm after Lingle got her fourth foul and had to sit the bench. Lingle left with 2:58 left in the third quarter and Bay leading, 48-39. When she returned, with 7:49 left in the fourth, Bay was still in front, 56-50.

“Siena's second foul was her dumb one,” Ciochetto said. “There's no reason for it. That's 45 feet from the basket. That's what she's got to get better at.”

Bay couldn't put the game away, however, because they seized up at the free throw line in the final two minutes. They missed seven free throws, five of them by the usually-reliable Lingle, and Mid Michigan, after a Terre'Ya Moore layup, was within 70-64, with 1:23 left on the clock.

But the Lakers ran out of time, as the Norse defense continued to hold down the fort.

Lingle led the Norse with 22 points and six assists, while Allan contributed 14 points and seven rebounds. Freudinger had a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Sproule led the way with 13 rebounds. And Rutter, off the bench, had 13 points and six rebounds.

“There's been a big change in our team,” Rutter said. “We've all been working so hard, putting in the work at practice, out of practice, staying healthy. We're a completely different team than we were a month ago. We're gonna be a completely different team at the end of the season. I know we're gonna keep working and keep getting better.”

For Mid Michigan (19-1 overall, 6-1 MCCAA), Watson had 16 points, while Moore and Resio both had 14. And Khali Heuker had a great game off the bench, with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

The Norse defense held in check a potent Laker offense that had averaged more than 100 points per game in their six conference wins (101, 97, 111, 103, 119, and 90 points).

Bay College (14-7 overall, 7-0 MCCAA) returns to action Wednesday night with another home game, against the last place North Central Michigan Timberwolves (1-18 overall, 0-7 MCCAA). Game time is 5:30 and it will be broadcast live on Maverick FM-106.3, and on-line through the link at

LISTEN: Siena Lingle player spotlight interview
LISTEN: Todd Ciochetto post-game comments
LISTEN: Leah Allan post-game comments
LISTEN: Emma Rutter post-game comments