MIDLAND, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team held on for an impressive 78-68 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference win at Northwood University Saturday afternoon. The Huskies constructed a 15-point lead about midway through the third quarter only to find themselves trailing the Timberwolves by four points with 4:31 to play. The Huskies collected themselves and outscored Northwood 19-5 down the stretch to secure the win.
"I'm super proud of our girls for keeping their composure to withstand that second half run by Northwood," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "In this setting against Northwood on their own floor, that was huge for our team and through that process we grew a lot today. We also had to overcome some adversity and foul trouble, especially in that second half. For our team to stay under control and get good looks at the basket down the stretch late in the game, that was big for our younger players."
Michigan Tech (5-3, 2-0 GLIAC) and Northwood (2-6, 0-2 GLIAC) exchanged baskets at the outset of Saturday afternoon's contest, leaving the score tied 4-4 nearly three minutes in. The Huskies then caught fire and pulled ahead on a layup by freshman Ellie Mackay at the 6:39 mark of the opening period. Senior Elizabeth Kelliher tacked on two more points with a layup and then Mackay connected from behind the arc on triple, giving Tech an 11-4 advantage at the midway point of the first quarter.
The Timberwolves narrowed the gap to three points at 16-13 on a three-point basket by Hunter Viitala, but right before the buzzer, Mackay came through again for the Huskies with another layup. Mackay closed the first quarter with seven points and Tech carried an 18-13 lead into the second frame.
Northwood produced the first four points of the second and drew to within 18-17 with just over a minute elapsed from the clock. Layups from Ellie Taylor and Kenzie Seeley accounted for the scoring. The game was a one to two possession battle until the Huskies began to create some separation with just over four minutes to play until the break.
Sophomore Cassidy Trotter drove to the basket for a layup following a steal courtesy of Sloane Zenner to make it 29-24. Junior Abbie Botz dropped in a layup and then Mackay sank a midrange jumper to push the score to 33-24 in favor of the Huskies with 3:15 left on the clock. Tech's advantage eventually grew to 13-points at 37-24 on a layup by Trotter with just over a minute left in the half. The Timberwolves logged three straight points and then Botz fired in a jumper a half second before the buzzer sounded to grant the Huskies a 39-27 lead at intermission.
The Huskies looked to have potentially put the game out of reach at the 6:46 mark of the third quarter when Botz found the bottom of the net on a mid-range jumper. The bucket created a 47-32 gap and put the Timberwolves on their heels. However, Northwood wasn't out of it yet and made a strong run to get back in the contest. The Timberwolves chipped away at Tech's lead during the final six minutes of the quarter, and by the time the horn sounded the game was evened up at 51-51 heading into the fourth period. Taylor tied the score with two free throws and at that point it was Tech's turn to respond.
The game reverted once again to a back and forth pattern in the fourth quarter, similar to what was seen to begin the game. Things didn't look good for the Huskies when Seely sighted in two free throws to make it a 63-59 score with 4:31 to play. However, Zenner dialed in a key three-point basket on the ensuing possession to draw the Huskies within one at 63-62 and turn the momentum back in the Huskies favor.
Zenner then made one of her three steals in the contest, which setup a layup by senior Elizabeth Kellher to put the Huskies back on top 64-63. Kelliher gave Tech nine straight points before a triple from Mackay made it a three possession game at 74-66 with under a minute to play. Zenner and Mackay then iced the game away at the free throw line in the final seconds to give the Huskies their second conference victory of the year.
Botz powered the Huskies with a career high 21 points, nine rebounds, and six assists followed by Mackay with 18 points thanks to a 7 of 10 shooting effort from the field. Kelliher made six of her eight shots and tallied 15 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots in Saturday's victory. Trotter chipped in nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals while Zenner tacked on a season high nine points of her own.
As a team, the Huskies were on target with 31 of their 60 shots from the field (51.7%), dialed in 4 of 19 three-point attempts (21.1%), and converted 12 of 14 opportunities at the free throw line (85.7%). Tech out-rebounded Northwood 31-28, generated 20 points from 16 Timberwolves turnovers, and logged 42 of their points in the paint.
Grace German and Taylor paced the Northwood offense with 20 points and six rebounds apiece Saturday afternoon. Seeley followed with 14 points and Viitala collected 10 points to round out the double digit scorers. The Timberwolves found success on 22 of 51 shots from the field (43.1%), were 5 for 13 from behind the three-point line (38.5%), and 19 of 22 at the charity stripe (86.4%).
The Huskies return home Thursday night when they host the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in a GLIAC battle beginning at 5:30 p.m.