ASHLAND, Ohio – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team fell at No. 1 ranked Ashland University in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semifinals 81-59 Saturday afternoon. The Huskies stayed on the Eagles' heels and were within six points midway through the third quarter before Ashland pulled away late in the third and into the fourth quarters.
"I'm really proud of our effort today that with five minutes to go in the third quarter it was just a six-point game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kim Cameron said. "They made two different second half runs which we couldn't overcome. They sped us up and we committed way too many turnovers and they were able to pull away. The first time we played them we handled their scoring runs pretty well and kept it even, but weren't able to do that today."
Michigan Tech (20-8) struck first on Saturday when senior Morgan Anderson grabbed a defensive rebound and converted on a layup on the offensive end of the floor to make it 2-0. Jodi Johnson countered by sinking a free throw for Ashland (30-0), but the Huskies would reel off four straight points to go up 6-1 with 8:23 remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore Elizabeth Kelliher and redshirt junior Brenna Heise provided the offense for Tech with a layup and jumper.
The Eagles then took their first lead of the day, answering back with two jumpers from Kelsey Peare and a layup from Julie Worley to go on top 7-6 with 5:31 left on the first quarter clock. Junior Lindsay Winter then delivered the next five points for Tech on a layup and triple which left the game deadlocked at 11-11 with 2:27 to go in the opening 10 minutes. Andi Daugherty put Ashland ahead on a 3-point bucket, but Kelliher sank a free throw for MTU before the close of the quarter to bring the Huskies within two points at 14-12 with 10 minutes in the books.
Peare and Maddie Dackin knocked down two treys to begin the second quarter for Ashland which opened up a 20-12 lead. The Huskies were able to keep the deficit within single digits for the majority of the quarter. Anderson and junior Hannah Stoll sliced the gap to five at 21-16 on back to back jumpers with 6:40 to play in the half. The Eagles went up by 10 points three separate times in the final four minutes of the second period, but Tech answered each time.
Trailing 32-22 with 1:43 to go in the second, Stoll and Anderson created a quick 4-0 scoring burst with two jumpers that drew the Huskies to within six points again at 32-26. Unfortunately, the Eagles would generate five of the final seven points in the half and carry a 37-28 advantage into the locker room at the break. However, the Huskies remained within striking distance with plenty of time left in the contest.
Ashland opened the third quarter much like they did the second quarter. Laina Snyder and Andi Daugherty dropped in consecutive layups to make it a 41-28 score with just over a minute gone by. Tech chipped away at the separation over the next three minutes by using a 9-2 scoring run to get right back into it. Redshirt junior Kelli Guy sliced to the basket for a layup followed by points in the pant from Kelliher and Heise. Renee Stimpert provided the only two points for Ashland during the stretch on a jumper before an offensive rebound and ensuing triple by Winter closed the margin Tech faced to 43-37 with 5:02 left in the third.
Ashland then turned the tide in their favor by outscoring the Huskies 10-2 during the latter half of the third period. The Eagles had scored 10 straight before a Heise jumper with three seconds left in the quarter made it a 53-39 score going into the fourth quarter. Winter cashed in two free throws to begin the fourth for MTU, but an ensuing 10-0 scoring run by Ashland over the next 90 seconds put the game out of reach.
Anderson and Winter each tallied 15 points for the Huskies with Winter matching a career high 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Winter also recorded a team high four assists on Saturday. Stoll followed with a career high 14 points while Heise chipped in six points and 10 rebounds of her own. Kelliher added five points and Guy produced four points for the Huskies on Saturday.
The Huskies connected on 22 of 57 shots from the field (38.6%), were 4 of 20 from behind the arc (20.0%), and cashed in 11 of 12 attempts at the free throw line (91.7%). Tech out-rebounded Ashland 40-39, but struggled against the Eagles defense which forced 25 turnovers.
Peare scored a game high 17 points to power the Ashland offense on Saturday followed by Daugherty with 16 points and Snyder with 14 points. Snyder and Renee Stimpert each grabbed seven rebounds while Jodi Johnson ended the game with nine points, six assists, and nine steals. The Eagles were on target with 30 of their 71 shots from the field (42.3%), went 6 of 13 from three-point range (46.2%), and 15 of 19 at the free throw line (78.9%). Ashland had 16 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second chance points in addition to 23 points that were created off turnovers.
The Huskies will now await word to see if they make the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament with an at-large bid. The field of eight teams will be announced by the NCAA Sunday night at 10 p.m.