MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team held on for a 59-56 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win Sunday afternoon at rival Northern Michigan University. The Huskies pulled in front 42-37 through 30 minutes by holding the Wildcats to eight points in the third quarter. Tech then held off NMU down the stretch with key plays on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
"This was a good win for us on the road and we were able to overcome quite a few challenges in this afternoon's game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kim Cameron said. "It doesn't matter if it wasn't the prettiest game or that it was hard, because no matter what the circumstances have been recently at Northern Michigan we haven't been able to do what we did today and that's go home with a win. I'm really proud our team being able to persevere and get this victory.
"Every possession was big in this game again today and hopefully we are learning how to play possession for possession along with the value of one score on offense to one stop on defense. I'm really proud of where we are at as a team and being able to go into the break with this win is really good."
Neither team held a lead greater than seven points in Sunday's game and it proved to be a low scoring battle throughout the contest. Michigan Tech (11-1, 5-0 GLIAC) and Northern Michigan (6-6, 2-3 GLIAC) are two of the top ranked defenses in the GLIAC when it comes to points allowed. The Huskies are allowing just 60.8 points per game while the Wildcats hold opponents to 60.0 points per contest.
The first points of Sunday's game would come at the free throw line when Tess Weatherly put the Wildcats on top 2-0 in the first minute. NMU didn't stay in front for long as senior Hannah Stoll tied the game forTech at 2-2 on a mid-range jumper just a few seconds later. From there, the back and forth flow of the game began.
Weatherly briefly put the Wildcats in front again at 5-2 on a triple with 7:12 to play in the quarter, but seniors Brenna Heise and Kelli Guy teamed up to fire in back to back jumpers to give the Huskies their first edge in the contest at 6-5 with just under six minutes remaining on the first quarter clock.
Northern Michigan would slip back in front 7-6 with two Jessica Schultz free throws on the ensuing possession following Guy's jumper. The free throws were two of 35 total attempts by the Wildcats in the game. Northern Michigan increased the gap for Tech to six points at 16-10 late in the first quarter, but the Huskies countered with a 6-0 run that started at the end of the first period and into the second.
Stoll knocked down the final bucket of the first quarter and then senior Lindsay Winter started the second with a jumper of her own. Stoll deadlocked the game again at 16-16 early in the second and from there the teams traded baskets for the rest of the half. Stoll gave the Huskies their biggest lead of half at 26-23 on a jumper with 2:09 to play until the break. Northern Michigan ended up regaining the edge at 29-28 right before the end of the second quarter on a layup by Taylor Hodell.
The Huskies were limited to two points in the first five minutes of the third quarter and found themselves down by five points at 35-30. Junior Elizabeth Kelliher sparked the offense with a conventional three-point play thanks to a layup and a free throw followed by a Guy triple that put Tech ahead again at 36-35. The Wildcats grabbed lead back at 37-36 on an Erin Honkala free throw, but the Huskies would close the third quarter with six straight points.
Junior Isabella O'Brien hauled down a crucial offensive rebound and drew a foul to get to the free throw line. She sank both shots to make it a 38-37 lead and then tacked on another point at the line after grabbing a board on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Hannah Hobson then dialed in a triple with 40 seconds to play in the third, lifting Tech's lead to 42-37.
From that point forward, the Huskies never trailed but couldn't breathe easy until the final buzzer. Winter bumped Tech's advantage to 50-43 on a jumper with 6:38 to go in the fourth, prompting a timeout by Northern Michigan. The Wildcats got a layup from Honkala out of the break and kept the score within two possessions the rest of the way.
In the final minute, Hodell made it a three-point margin at 55-52 on two free throws followed by a Lexi Smith layup that cut Tech's lead to 55-54 with 29 seconds to go. Forced to foul, Northern Michigan put Guy on the free throw line and she came through for the Huskies with two clutch free throw makes.
Smith raced to the other end of the floor for the Wildcats where she tossed in a quick layup, forcing the Huskies to make two more free throws. This time, it was Winter who pushed the Tech lead to three points again at 59-56 on the strength of two successful tries at the charity stripe. The Wildcats had one last chance, but a Schultz three-point attempt from the right corner bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded, enabling the Huskies to emerge with the victory.
Guy powered the Huskies with 15 points followed by Stoll and Winter with 12 points each in Sunday's win. Winter and Stoll also grabbed six and five rebounds respectively. O'Brien and Hobson provided some outstanding minutes off the bench. Hobson had a key triple and one rebound while O'Brien chipped in five points and a team high eight rebounds. O'Brien also blocked a pair of shots and helped solidify the Huskies' defense in the paint.
As a team, Tech connected on 23 of 60 shots from the field (38.3%), were 2 of 14 from behind the arc (14.3%), and 11 of 15 at the free throw line (73.3%). The Huskies won the rebounding battle 38-35 and forced 10 NMU turnovers.
Hodell collected a game high 17 points for the Wildcats followed by Schultz with 12 points and Smith with 11 points. Honkala chipped in seven points and pulled down a team high seven rebounds. The Wildcats were on target with 17 of 45 shot attempts from the field (37.8%), were 1 for 7 from three-point range (14.3%), and 21 of 35 at the free throw line (60.0%).
The Huskies will be off until after the Holiday break when they return home to face top ranked and defending national champion Ashland University in the SDC on Thursday January 4th. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.