YPSILANTI, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team shocked NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan 66-61 Thursday night in an exhibition game at the Convocation Center. The Huskies took a 4-0 lead and outscored the Eagles 13-4 in the first quarter. Tech led by as many as 11 points while Eastern Michigan managed no more than a two-point edge the entire night.
"I am really proud of our players tonight and the performance they had against a good Eastern Michigan team," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "Our players played really hard and they handled the pressure that we knew Eastern Michigan would bring at us. They made great decisions and it didn't always look pretty, but we worked hard and held on for the win.
"Our inexperience didn't show and I thought for not having been in this type of environment before, our players kept their composure really well and made the plays they needed to. We still have some things to work on, but this was a great start and win tonight as we look forward to the regular season beginning next weekend against Ursuline and Davis & Elkins."
Michigan Tech withstood Eastern Michigan at the outset and with just over eight minutes to go in the first quarter pulled in front 2-0 on a jumper from sophomore Cassidy Trotter. The Huskies then got a quick stop courtesy of a steal by Trotter who fed the ball up the floor to redshirt junior Abbie Botz for a layup by to make it 4-0 score.
The quick scoring run sparked the Huskies confidence which in turn led to a dominant first quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the night. Leading 6-4 with 3:39 remaining on the first quarter clock, Tech outscored the Eagles 7-0 to close the opening period of Thursday's game. Trotter connected on a layup and then junior Baillie McGirk dialed in a triple to make it 11-4. Freshman forward Jordan Ludescher converted two free throws for the final two points of the period and a 13-4 Tech advantage through 10 minutes.
It didn't take long for the Huskies to boost the lead to double digits at 15-4 as Ludescher went to work in the lane for two more points. They would be two of 42 total points in the paint during the course of the night for the Huskies, who consistently attacked the middle of the Eagles' defense.
Eastern Michigan drew to within four though at 15-11 on a jumper by Corrione Cardwell at the 6:49 mark of the second quarter, capping a 7-0 run. The Huskies countered to go up 21-11 on a Botz layup just under two minutes later, but the Eagles chipped away at their deficit the rest of the half and pulled even right before the break. Courtnie Lewis deadlocked the score at 24-24 as the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the first 20 minutes of play.
The Eagles grabbed their first lead of the contest four seconds into the third on a Cardwell layup, but once again the Huskies had an answer. Tech engineered an 8-0 run to reestablish a foothold on the scoreboard. Botz got it rolling with a layup followed by points in the paint from Trotter, senior Elizabeth Kelliher and McGirk to make it 32-26 with 7:22 remaining in the quarter.
The Huskies enjoyed their second 11-point lead of the evening when junior Hannah Hobson delivered a triple to make it a 39-28 score. However, the Eagles would climb back in front 44-42 with 1:25 to go in the third on a drive to the basket and layup from Cardwell. Junior Ellie Welsh came through in the clutch again for the Huskies and tied the score at 44-44 on a layup to stop Eastern Michigan's momentum.
With the score knotted up at 46-46 going into the fourth quarter, the game seesawed back and forth during the final 10 minutes. The Huskies notched the first four points of the final period on layups from Kelliher and Botz, but then the Eagles slipped back in front 53-52 midway through the quarter on a midrange jumper form Juanita Agosto. However, the Huskies stayed calm under pressure and were up by two possessions again at 57-53 after a layup by Botz.
Two free throws by McGirk bumped the gap to six points at 59-53, but Cardwell drained a three-pointer to cut it in half on the ensuing possession. Jenna Annecchiarico then brought the Eagles to within one at 60-59 in a three-point bucket with 45 seconds to go. Trotter answered as she calmly went to the charity stripe and sank two free throws, but a pair of freebees by Cardwell brought things back to a one-point game at 62-61 with 31 seconds left.
Following a Tech turnover, Ludescher came down with a key defensive rebound on a missed shot by EMU, setting up two more free throws from Trotter to make it 64-61 with 14 seconds remaining. Lewis then missed a game tying triple with seven seconds to go as Hobson cleared the defensive rebound and converted two successful free throw attempts to seal the 66-61 victory.
Trotter led all scorers with 20 points, knocking down 8 of 11 shots from the field and 4 of 4 attempts at the free throw line. She also dealt out four assists and hauled down four rebounds. Botz followed with 14 points and a team high seven rebounds while Hobson and Ludescher each chipped in nine points for the Huskies. Kelliher had six boards and two blocked shots in addition to five points. McGirk posted seven points and Welsh added two to round out the scoring for Tech.
As a team, the Huskies were successful on 25 of 47 shots from the field (53.2%), went 2 of 11 behind the three-point line (18.2%), and 14 of 21 from the free throw stripe (66.7%). Tech out-rebounded Eastern Michigan 38-34, had 42 points in the paint, and 12 points on fast break opportunities.
Cardwell paced the Eagles with 17 points followed by a 14-point effort from Agosto. Natalia Pineda rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points while Autumn Hudson pulled down a team high six rebounds. The Huskies defense limited Eastern Michigan to a 21 of 67 shooting night from the field (31.3%), the Eagles were 7 of 22 from behind the arc (31.8%), and 12 of 16 at the free throw line (75.0%).
The Huskies will be back on the floor Friday November 9th against Ursuline in the 2018-19 regular season opener on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. Tech will then face Davis & Elkins on Saturday November 10th to wrap up opening weekend. Friday's tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. followed by a 1 p.m. start time on Saturday.