Huskies Power Past Ursuline 96-65 in Season Opener

HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team tipped-off the 2018-19 regular season Friday night in Big Rapids, Michigan with an impressive 96-65 non-conference victory over Ursuline College. The Huskies had an impressive preseason with two exhibition wins and didn't miss a beat, pulling away from the Arrows with a 30-13 third quarter run.

"We started off a little bit slow, but it was nice to see our girls handle the adversity," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "We struggled against the zone and were settling for three point attempts early. Once we started moving the ball inside, getting to the high post, penetrating to the basket, and scoring in transition I thought we settled in and looked a lot better. We have to get some good rest tonight and be ready to face a good Davis & Elkins team tomorrow."

Junior Abbie Botz recorded the first basket of the year by getting to the rim for a layup on Michigan Tech's (1-0) opening possession Friday night. The Huskies scored 42 points in the paint last week in the exhibition at Eastern Michigan and immediately attacked the middle in the first quarter. Ursuline (0-1) tied the contest 2-2 on a layup by Sarah Lairson on the ensuing trip down the floor, but the Huskies would answer with the next two buckets to go up by four.

Junior Baillie McGirk dropped in a pair of layups on her way to a career high 29 points to make it a 6-2 score. Junior Ellie Welsh and sophomore Cassidy Trotter dealt out assists on the baskets. A Welsh triple then expanded Tech's lead to 12-5 with 6:11 remaining in the first period, but the Arrows would counter with a 10-2 scoring run to slip in front. A conventional three-point play Bekah Green gave Ursuline its first lead of the evening at 15-14 with 3:40 on the clock.

A scoring drought for both offenses ensued until the final seconds of the opening frame. McGirk was able to rebound her own missed shot and right before the buzzer sounded, cashed in a layup with just four seconds left in the quarter. Thanks to McGirk's basket, the Huskies carried a 16-15 edge into the second quarter.

The Huskies notched the first three points of the second period on a free throw from senior Elizabeth Kelliher and a mid-range jumper courtesy of Botz to make it 19-15. However, the Arrows bounced back with an 8-0 run to move in front for the second time Friday night. Kaylin Burdick dialed in a triple at the 6:19 mark of the quarter and suddenly Ursuline had a 23-19 edge.

The Huskies called a 30 second timeout to regroup and from there took control for the rest of the quarter. Tech reeled off nine straight points to erase the deficit and create a 28-23 cushion following a McGirk three-pointer with just under five minutes to go until the break. The Arrows stayed within single digits until junior Hannah Hobson found the target on a mid-range jumper to make it 37-27 with 3:28 showing on the second quarter clock.

The teams essentially traded baskets down the stretch with McGirk closing the first half for Tech with a conventional three-point play. The layup and subsequent free throw gave the Huskies a 46-36 advantage going into the locker room at halftime.

The Huskies really took off in the third quarter and set the tone for the rest of the night in the opening minutes. Kelliher grabbed a defensive rebound for Tech and on the other end of the floor, Trotter found her inside for layup to get the offense rolling. Botz followed that up with two more points in the paint and then Kelliher capped a quick 6-0 run with another layup to make it a 52-36 lead with 7:17 remaining in the third.

Just over two minutes later, the Huskies created a 61-40 gap between themselves and the Arrows via a triple from Botz. By the time the third quarter came to an end, the Huskies were in complete control of the contest. Freshman Jordan Ludescher lifted in a mid-range jumper for Tech's 76th point of the night and with three quarters in the books, the lead stood at 76-49. The Huskies added four more points of separation in the final 10 minutes on their way to the 96-65 decision.

McGirk powered the Huskies with a career high 29 points, connecting on 11 of 16 shots from the field, including all three of her attempts from behind the arc. She also contributed four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one blocked shot. Ludescher dropped in 15 points and grabbed a team high eight rebounds off the bench followed by Botz and Kelliher with 13 points apiece. It was a new career high for Botz who also chipped in with four assist and four rebounds. Freshman Ellie Mackay just missed double digits in points with eight Friday night.

As a team, Michigan Tech knocked down 37 of 74 shots from the field (50.0%), converted 10 of 25 opportunities from three-point land (40.0%), and 12 of 19 chances at the free throw line (63.2%). The Huskies had a solid advantage in rebounding at 45-35, recorded 28 points off 24 Ursuline turnovers, and outscored the Arrows 40-30 in the paint. Head Coach Sam Hoyt also earned her first career coaching victory.

Jennah Taylor led Ursuline with 12 points followed by Julia Cardwell with 11 points and a team high seven rebounds. Green, Lairson, and Ky Crevison tacked on 10 points apiece for the Arrows, with Green dealing out five assists. Ursuline was on the mark with 23 of 57 shots from the field (40.4%), were 5 of 12 from three-point range (41.7%), and 14 of 19 at the charity stripe (73.7%).

The Huskies are back on the court in Big Rapids Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. eastern time to battle Davis & Elkins in game two of opening weekend.