EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team fell behind early, but battled back to take a third quarter lead over Bellarmine Saturday afternoon in game one of the University of Southern Indiana Thanksgiving Classic. Unfortunately, a late surge by the Knights resulted in a 73-60 decision in their favor.
"We just didn't take care of the ball like we needed to against their pressure in order to be successful," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "It will be similar pressure tomorrow, so we'll learn from our mistakes and be ready to bounce back. Ellie Welsh hit some big shots for us and kept us in the game. It was nice to see her step up offensively today."
Bellarmine (4-0) powered out to a 13-0 lead to begin the contest, forcing Michigan Tech (3-2) to play catch-up most of the afternoon. The Huskies were able to break through for points on a jumper by junior Hannah Hobson with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter and from there began to chip away at the deficit. The bucket by Hobson sparked a 9-0 Tech run which culminated on a triple by freshman Ellie Mackay to make it a 13-9 score with 1:44 to go in the first.
Trailing 15-11 to start the second quarter, the Huskies quickly climbed to within two at 15-13 on two free throws courtesy of freshman Jordan Ludescher. However, Bellarmine was able to rebuild a double digit advantage again at 27-15 on a layup from Lauren Deel midway through the second quarter. The Huskies got back on track though in the final five minutes of the second, starting with a three-point bucket from junior Ellie Welsh shortly after the Deel layup. Welsh connected on three triples in the game, which helped produce a career high 15 points in Saturday's contest.
Tech eventually fired in the final nine points of the period to close the gap back down to two points at 29-27 going into the locker room at halftime. Freshman Sloane Zenner, senior Elizabeth Kelliher, sophomore Cassidy Trotter, and Hobson all contributed scoring plays down the final stretch of the second.
The Huskies once again survived an early scoring surge to open the third that saw the Knights open up a 10-point lead again at 41-31 with 6:13 on the clock. Trotter, Welsh, Hobson and Ludescher powered the offense with points as Tech sliced Bellarmine's lead down to one at 41-40. Welsh then converted a crucial layup to give the Huskies their only lead of afternoon at 45-43 with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the Knights slipped back in front 46-45 on a Mallory Schwartz triple eight seconds later and carried a 51-46 edge into the fourth quarter. Allison Van Dyke gave Bellarmine a 60-48 lead on two free throws with 5:52 left and the Huskies were unable to recover from that final run.
Welsh led all scorers Saturday with 15 points by connecting on 6 of 10 attempts from the field. She also added a rebound, assist, and steal to the stat sheet. Trotter followed with 12 points four rebounds and five assists while Kelliher chipped in eight points and shared the team lead in rebounds with seven. Kelliher picked up two more blocked shots and dished out one assist and had one steal. Hobson also had seven rebounds in the game and produced seven points on the offensive end of the floor.
As a team, the Huskies connected on 23 of 55 attempts from the field (41.8%), were 4 of 18 from three-point range (22.2%), and 10 of 15 on opportunities at the free throw line (66.7%). Both teams combined for 49 turnovers which resulted in a combined 46 points between the two clubs. Each side notched 38 points in the paint Saturday.
Three players had 10 points or more for the Knights, paced by Mallory Schwartz with 14 points and seven rebounds. Deel collected 12 points and hauled down eight rebounds while Liza Tibbs tacked on 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Bellarmine went 30 for 61 from the field (49.2%), were 5 of 17 from three-point range (29.4%), and 8 of 11 at the charity stripe (72.7%). The Knights had the advantage on the boards, out-rebounding Tech 41-30.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Sunday afternoon when the battle Southern Indiana starting at 3:30 p.m. eastern time.