ASHLAND, Ohio – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team gave the top ranked team in the country all they could handle Thursday night, but fell 82-75 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle at Ashland University. The Huskies had career nights from senior Morgan Anderson and sophomore Elizabeth Kelliher to nearly pull off the upset.
"I thought we played really hard and our effort was outstanding tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kim Cameron said. "We had some people really step up with Morgan and Elizabeth giving us great performances. We struggled with our execution in the final minute and went scoreless in the final three minutes which was tough. However, our will and our want is certainly there and I think that our expectation for ourselves needs to be really high. I expected us to win, they expected themselves to win and this is a good eye opener for us on where we can be and where we should be and what we need to do to get to that next step."
Michigan Tech (8-3, 4-2 GLIAC) struck first in the opening minute Thursday night when Kelliher dropped in two of her career high 21 points to get the offense rolling. Ashland (15-0, 7-0 GLIAC) countered with a layup from Andi Daugherty and then the two teams traded baskets on ensuing possessions. Anderson then drilled the first of her eight triples on the night to send the Huskies back on top 7-4 with 7:47 left in the first quarter.
Leading 9-8 with just over six minutes remaining in the first period, Tech engineered an 8-1 run to build a 17-9 advantage. Redshirt junior Brenna Heise cashed in two free throws followed by three-point buckets from redshirt junior Kelli Guy and Anderson. The Huskies remained in front for the rest of the quarter although two free throws by Maddie Dackin trimmed the Ashland deficit to 24-20 going into the second period.
A jumper by Heise to start the second increased the gap to six points at 26-20 for Tech, but the Eagles would draw even twice before eventually grabbing the lead at 31-29 on a Laina Snyder layup with 6:58 to play until the break. Tech deadlocked the score again at 39 apiece on a triple from Anderson with 2:45 left in the half and again at 41-41 on a layup courtesy of junior Lindsay Winter. Ashland then reeled off the next four points followed by a jumper at the buzzer from Synder, giving the Eagles a 47-43 edge at the break.
It looked as if the Eagles would pull away early in the third quarter when Snyder gave them their largest lead of the night at 51-43 on another layup. However, Tech kept battling and tied the game three times in the third quarter before going ahead again 66-65 with 1:26 on the clock. Kelliher generated a conventional three-point play, drawing contact from Julie Worley on a made layup followed by a successful free throw try. Kelsey Peare gave the Eagles the lead back on two free throws of her own with 47 seconds left in the third, making it a 67-66 contest with 30 minutes in the books.
Tech started the fourth quarter with the basketball and a Heise layup off an offensive rebound momentarily sent the Huskies back in front again 68-67. Unfortunately, six straight points by the Eagles would give them the lead for the remainder of the final period. Jodi Johnson, Alex Henning, and Synder all had layups during the stretch to make it a 73-68 score with 6:06 to go.
The Huskies stayed within two possessions until the final minute Thursday night and trailed by just three points at 78-75 after a Kelliher layup with 2:51 left. Neither team could get much going on offense in the final moments with the exception of four Ashland free throws. Tech had some chances late, but failed to score again in the final 2:51 of the contest.
Anderson led all scorers with a game and career high 29 points for the Huskies Thursday night. Anderson was 8 for 14 from behind the arc and in addition to her point total dished out a career best nine assists as well. Kelliher followed with a career high 21 points thanks to an 8 for 13 shooting effort from the field. Kelliher led the GLIAC in field goal percentage coming into the week at 63.3 percent. Kelliher also grabbed a team best six rebounds and delivered one blocked shot. Heise and Guy each chipped in eight points followed by junior Hannah Stoll with five points and junior Lindsay Winter with four points.
As a team, Tech converted 26 of 57 shots from the field (45.6%), were 10 for 22 from three-point range (45.4%), and 13 of 16 at the free throw line (81.3%). The Huskies had 21 assists and converted 13 Ashland turnovers into 17 points.
The Eagles were powered by Snyder with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five steals while Daugherty tacked on 14 points and four rebounds. Johnson produced 12 points and Henning rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points Thursday night. Ashland was 29 of 62 from the field (46.8%), 1 for 7 from three-point range (14.3%), and 23 of 28 at the free throw line (82.1%). The Eagles out-rebounded the Huskies 38-33 and scored 50 of their points in the paint.
The Huskies will be back on the court Saturday when they travel to Tiffin for another GLIAC contest. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.