BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team wrapped up the road portion of the 2016-17 regular season schedule with a 74-64 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at Ferris State Saturday afternoon. In the process, the Huskies locked down a home game in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinals which will begin on Tuesday February 28th.
"It was a must win for us today and we were able to get it done on the road," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kim Cameron said. "We faced a lot of pressure from their defense and struggled at times, but hit a couple of big shots against their press. I thought our bench did a great job coming in and providing some key minutes and points for us. Elizabeth (Kelliher) had a strong game and the baskets that she made were very difficult against a very physical defense. We have another huge game against Northern Michigan on Thursday and we are taking it one game at a time. It's very important for us to keep our heads down and keep getting better."
Michigan Tech (18-7, 14-6 GLIAC) never trailed on Saturday, but it would still be a tough battle from start to finish against Ferris State (5-21, 4-16 GLIAC). Junior Lindsay Winter gave the Huskies an early 2-0 lead in the opening minute with a layup to get things rolling. Riley Blair created the only tie of the day at 2-2 with a pair of free throws at the 8:37 mark of the first quarter for the Bulldogs. Tech quickly slid back in front on a layup by sophomore Elizabeth Kelliher followed by a triple from Winter to make it a 7-2 score with 7:28 to play in the first period.
With 5:09 on the clock, Leah Humes brought the Bulldogs to within two points again at 10-8 on a mid-range jumper. However, the Huskies created some separation with an 8-0 run on their way to the first double digit lead of the game at 18-8. Isabella O'Brien dropped in a layup followed by a jumper from redshirt junior Kelli Guy. Senior Morgan Anderson tacked on two more points and O'Brien closed the burst at the 2:40 mark of the quarter with her second layup. Tech would retain a ten-point lead at 22-12 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a layup by Kelliher right before the buzzer.
Humes recorded the first two points of the second period for Ferris State on a layup to slice Tech's lead to single digits again at 22-14. Redshirt junior Brenna Heise countered with back to back jumpers on the left side of the court for the Huskies to extend the gap back to double digits at 26-14. The Huskies' largest lead of night occurred with 4:46 remaining in the second quarter when freshman Hannah Hobson found the range on a jumper to make it a 28-15 score.
Ferris State used the final portion of the second quarter to slowly climb back to within striking distance of the Huskies. Rachel McInerney converted two free throws followed by two more successful attempts at the charity stripe by Renee Sturm. The four points cut Tech's advantage to 33-28 with just under a minute to play until the break. The Huskies were able to curb some of the Bulldogs' momentum thanks to a triple by Guy for the final points of the half.
Tech produced the first four points of the third quarter on layup's by Kelliher and Heise to go up 40-28. The Huskies would then hold on to a double digit advantage for the majority of the third frame. Anderson gave the Huskies a 13-point cushion again at 52-39 with 1:22 left in the third quarter on a layup, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter with a jumper by Alexis Bush and a layup by McInerney, making the score 52-43 through 30 minutes.
Tech would have to withstand a late charge by the Bulldogs that started four minutes into the fourth quarter to preserve Saturday's win. Sturm, McInerney, and Brayene Benner combined for three layups which trimmed MTU's edge to 63-58 with 4:44 to play. Only six points separated the two teams with 1:44 to go at 68-62 after a layup by Humes. Anderson countered with a layup and Guy made two free throws mixed with a couple of defensive stops to build the lead back to ten at 72-62. McInerney had a layup with three seconds to play before redshirt freshman Abbie Botz capped the game for Tech with two free throws, resulting in the 74-64 final score.
Four players ended the game with 13 points for Michigan Tech on Saturday. Heise, Kelliher, Guy, and Winter each reached the threshold and provided great balance for the Huskies on offense. Kelliher had a team high six rebounds and five more blocked shots at Ferris State. Anderson closed the game with eight points and a game high eight assists.
The Huskies were on target with 27 of 58 field goal attempts (46.6%), were 6 of 18 from three-point range (33.3%), and 14 of 18 at the free throw line (77.8%). Tech produced 30 points in the paint and had 12 points generated off the fast break.
Ferris State was guided by McInerney with a game high 20 points followed by Bush and Humes with 12 points apiece. McInerney had eight rebounds and four assists to go along with a block and two steals. The Bulldogs made 21 of 54 field goal attempts (38.9%), were 3 of 7 from behind the arc (42.9%), and 19 of 26 at the free throw line (73.1%).
The Huskies will return home for the final game of the regular season Thursday night against Northern Michigan University. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.