SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team extended the winning streak to seven games thanks to a 74-63 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at Lake Superior State University Thursday night. The victory, coupled with a loss by Ferris State, clinched a home game for the Huskies in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on March 5th.
"Give credit to Lake Superior State for playing hard and challenging us all the way to end," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "We played hard as well and did a great job executing, especially in the first and third quarters tonight. We did struggle a bit defensively in the second and fourth periods and put them on the foul line which gave them a chance to get back in the game. Overall on offense, we moved the ball well, set our screens, and were able to get ball inside which helped us create some separation in the first and third quarters. It was also key for us to get out to a quick start tonight. Anytime you can get a win on the road in the GLIAC it's huge and credit to our players for battling through to close out the victory."
Michigan Tech (17-7, 13-3 GLIAC) never trailed in the contest and set the tone out of the gate when junior Ellie Welsh connected on a pair of three-point baskets in the opening minute for a 6-0 edge. Lake Superior State (7-16, 2-14 GLIAC) got on the board for the first time when Courtney Jacobsen dialed in a triple of her own to make it a 6-3 score with 8:40 on the first quarter clock.
The Huskies then proceeded to go on a 7-0 scoring run, leading to their first double digit advantage of the evening. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter cut to the rim for a layup followed by points in the paint from senior Elizabeth Kelliher and a trey courtesy of freshman Sloane Zenner. Zenner's bucket capped the run and created a 13-3 gap in favor of Tech with 5:26 remaining in the first.
The Huskies continued to create further separation for the remainder of the period. Leading 15-8 with three minutes left, Tech closed the first frame on a 10-0 run with points coming from Zenner, Trotter, freshman Ellie Mackay, and Kelliher. Kelliher found the bottom of the net right before the buzzer sounded, giving the Huskies a 25-8 lead through 10 minutes.
With 7:49 left in the second, Tech had opened up a 32-10 lead when Zenner sighted in another shot from long distance. However, with their backs against the wall the Lakers reeled off 11 consecutive points to get right back in it. Taylor Bryant completed a conventional three-point play with just over five minutes to play in the half, reducing the Lakers' deficit to 32-21. Lake Superior State eventually drew to within eight points at 37-29 in the final minute, but a Kelliher layup with 21 seconds left in the second salvaged a 39-29 lead for the Huskies at the break.
Michigan Tech got back on track in the third quarter and outpaced the Lakers 18-7 during that 10-minute span. The Huskies used a 10-0 scoring burst to wrap up the third period which recreated a 21-point lead. Junior Abbie Botz launched a triple with three seconds left for the final basket, leaving the score at 57-36 with 30 minutes in the books.
Tech then added another point to the cushion when Welsh connected from behind the arc to make it 60-38 with 9:05 remaining in the fourth period. The Lakers would not go quietly and slowly but surely chipped away at the difference during the next few minutes. Lake Superior State clawed all the way back to within six points at 69-63 when Lexie Khon cashed in a free throw with 41 seconds to play.
Fortunately, the Huskies were able to hold off the Lakers on the strength of some clutch free throw shooting in those final seconds. Botz, Zenner, and Mackay combined to go 5 for 6 at the stripe while the defense forced a pair of Lake Superior State turnovers to seal the 74-63 win.
Kelliher powered the Huskies with a game high 19 points, sinking 8 of her 9 shot attempts from the field. She also produced seven rebounds and blocked a season high six shots in the victory. Botz followed with 14 points and a team high eight rebounds while Trotter and Welsh each chipped in 12 points. Zenner rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points and Trotter closed the night with a team high five assists.
As a team, the Huskies were successful on 25 of 56 shots from the field (44.6%), were 10 for 21 from three-point land (47.6%), and 14 of 22 at the free throw line (63.6%). Tech out-rebounded the Lakers 33-30 and posted 30 points in the paint with 12 points coming in the transition game Thursday.
Jacobsen had 17 points to pace the Lakers followed by Khon with 10 points. Sadie DeWildt tossed in eight points and dished out four assists while Jenna Gregory tacked on four points and a team high eight rebounds. The Lakers wrapped up the contest converting on 19 of 54 shots from the field (35.2%), were 4 of 18 from behind the arc (22.2%), and 21 of 24 at the free throw line (87.5%).
The Huskies travel to Ferris State Saturday for their second game of the season against the Bulldogs. Ferris State lost in double overtime Thursday night to Northern Michigan 70-66. Saturday's tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. eastern time.