ASHLAND, Ohio – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team opened the 2019 calendar year with a tough 80-58 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss at No. 8 Ashland University Thursday night. The Huskies stayed with the Eagles for the first half, but Ashland turned the tide in their favor in the third quarter.
"I was really happy with the defensive execution in the first half tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "We were able to slow them down in transition, but unfortunately in the second half we weren't as effective. It was good to see us stay with a great team like Ashland in the first half and it shows us the potential that we have. We just have to be able to continue to stay focused, execute, and put two halves together.
"We have an opportunity to bounce back on Saturday at Wayne State and It's going to be important that we execute our transition defense effectively and play a solid 40 minutes. We need to slow them down, prevent easy looks, be able to handle their pressure, and limit our turnovers to give ourselves the best chance to win."
Michigan Tech (7-6, 3-2 GLIAC) put the Eagles on their heels with four quick points out of the gates Thursday night. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter recorded the first two points of the evening on a layup and then after an Ashland (12-1, 4-1 GLIAC) turnover, fed the ball inside to senior Elizabeth Kelliher for two points in the paint.
The Huskies continued to lead 6-3 thanks to a layup by junior Abbie Botz at the 7:05 mark, but the Eagles would record the next seven points to go in front for the first time in the contest. Brooke Smith connected on a triple and then Hallie Heidemann dropped in a pair of attempts at the free throw line with 4:24 on the clock to make it a 10-6 score.
Trotter countered with back-to-back layups to deadlock the score at 10-10, but Ashland's Maddie Dackin dialed in a three-point basket for a 13-10 Eagles lead with 2:35 to go in the first. Trotter and Kelliher then teamed up in the final minutes to pull the Huskies into a 14-14 tie going into the second period.
The Eagles reeled off five quick points to start the second, but freshman Ellie Mackay powered the Huskies back into the lead with consecutive triples, making it a 20-19 score. With 3:10 to play until intermission, freshman Sloane Zenner created a 25-21 Tech advantage on a three-point basket of her own. Unfortunately, the Eagles would go on an 8-2 run to finished out the second quarter and carry a 29-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Ashland's offense continued to pick up steam at the beginning of the third quarter with six of the first eight points. Jodi Johnson made it a 35-29 score with 8:14 on the clock, but then Trotter brought Tech back to within four points at 35-31 with a jumper on the ensuing possession. The Eagles then collected five straight points to increase the gap to 40-31 with just under six minutes to play in the third.
The Huskies stayed within striking distance and trailed 50-43 after a free throw by junior Hannah Hobson at the 2:17 mark of the third period. Unfortunately, Ashland put the game out of reach with a 15-0 scoring run that covered the final two minutes of the third and the opening two minutes of the four quarter. Sara Loomis capped the burst with a conventional three-point play to make it a 65-43 contest and the Eagles continued to pull away from there for the 80-58 win.
Mackay and Hobson guided the Huskies' offense with 13 points apiece Thursday night. Each player knocked down 50 percent of their shots from the field and combined for seven successful three-point tries. Trotter chipped in 10 points and nine assists to round out the double digit scorers for Tech while Botz added nine points and a team best four rebounds.
The Huskies made 24 of 56 shots from the field (42.9%), were on target with 8 of 24 attempts from behind the arc (33.3%), and 2 of 5 at the charity stripe (40.0%). Tech's defense forced 26 Ashland turnovers which led to 20 points on the offensive end of the floor.
The Eagles were led by Loomis with a game high 23 points and nine rebounds followed by Johnson with 18 points. Dackin tacked on 14 points and Karlee Pireu tossed in 10 points Thursday night. Renee Stimpert had seven points, delivered six assists, and had four steals. The Eagles made 32 of 51 shots from the field (62.7%), were 6 for 12 from long distance (50.0%), and 10 for 13 at the free throw line (76.9%). Ashland had the advantage in rebounding 35-19.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they travel to Wayne State University for another GLIAC contest. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.