ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team fell for the first time this season Friday against Augustana University (S.D.) 95-82 on day one of the Concordia St. Paul Thanksgiving Classic. The Huskies fell behind 23-11 in the first quarter and rallied late, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.
"We really struggled to start the game this afternoon," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kim Cameron said. "I think we were ready, but they got to us early and we weren't able to bounce back. We have to be able to take some hits early in the game and be able to recover quicker than what we were able to today. They came out with all the energy and I think we looked tentative which we are working on trying to fix.
"The end of the game showed we have toughness and are going to battle to the end of games. We turned it up defensively and applied pressure on the ball and I thought they struggled with that. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. We have another tough game tomorrow against a very good Concordia St. Paul team. Everybody is going to bring their best game against us and we have to be ready for it and battle back."
Michigan Tech (5-1) and Augustana (4-0) traded baskets back and forth during the opening two minutes Friday afternoon. The Vikings struck first on a layup by Shelby Selland, but the Huskies quickly countered on a triple by senior Lindsay Winter at the 8:53 mark. The Vikings momentarily went ahead again on a layup from Presley O'Farrell, but a jumper courtesy of Hannah Stoll gave Tech the edge back at 5-4 with eight minutes on the first quarter clock.
However, Augustana would go in front to stay when Selland got into the paint for her second layup of the afternoon to make it a 6-5 score. Selland's bucket began what would be a 9-0 Vikings run that culminated in a 13-5 advantage with 6:05 remaining in the first period. The Huskies were able to close to within four again at 13-9 on a jumper by junior Michelle LaFave at the 3:21 mark, but the Vikings then created a 7-0 run to build their first double digit advantage of the afternoon at 19-9.
Trailing 23-11 after the first quarter, Michigan Tech matched baskets with the Vikings a little more in the second quarter, but not enough to close the gap. Augustana carried a 43-29 advantage into the locker room at halftime and tacked on six more points to the lead at 69-50 by the time the third quarter had expired.
The Huskies wouldn't go away though and in the final minutes of the fourth quarter drew to within single digits of Vikings. Down 82-55, the Huskies engineered a 20-2 scoring burst to get within nine points at 84-75 with 2:27 remaining on the clock. Senior Brenna Heise, who would finish with a career high 37 points and equal a school single game record, put the team on her shoulders down the stretch.
Heise fired in one of her five triples of the afternoon to get the run going and was the producer of 16 of the 20 points. Senior Kelli Guy and LaFave chipped in with points during that final comeback bid as well.
Two free throws by Paige Peterson put the Vikings into a double digit lead scenario again at 86-75 with 2:07 to go, but Heise would answer again with another long distance triple to close the gap to eight points at 86-78. Unfortunately, the Vikings reeled off the next six points to put a further comeback out of reach.
The Huskies were powered by Heise and her career high of 37 points. She connected on 16 of 23 shots from the field, was 5 of 10 from three-point range, grabbed a team best six rebounds, had three assists, and three blocked shots. Her point total equaled a Tech school record of 37 which was set by Sam Hoyt against Northwood on February 25th, 2012. She is also the first Tech player to score 30 or more points since Kylie Moxley accomplished the feat with 34 on February 18th, 2016 against Northwood.
Senior Hannah Stoll followed with 15 points and LaFave reached double figures by matching a career high of 14 points. Guy finished the afternoon with a career best 13 assists which was one shy of the Tech school record of 14 set by Karen Filppula against Northland on December 4th, 1982.
As a team, the Huskies set a new school record with 31 assists eclipsing the previous mark of 29 which was accomplished twice. The first was against Ferris State on January 14th, 1989 and then versus Suomi on December 18th, 1999. Tech connected on 37 of 75 shots from the field (49.3%) and were 8 of 26 from the three-point line (30.8%).
Selland and Peterson guided Augustana with 18 points apiece followed by Presley O'Farrell with 16 points and Lynsey Prosser with 14 points. Logan O'Farrell chipped in with seven points and hauled down a game high eight rebounds. The Vikings finished the game 32 of 61 from the field (52.5%), were 7 of 16 from behind the arc (43.8%), and 24 of 26 at the free throw line (92.3%). Augustana also had a slight edge in rebounding at 33-31.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they play Concordia St. Paul on day two of the Thanksgiving Classic at 5 p.m. EST.