HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team outscored Saginaw Valley State 29-10 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 79-54 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win Saturday afternoon in the SDC Gym. The Huskies won for the sixth consecutive time, their first winning streak of six games or more since January 25th through February 17th of last year when they reeled off eight straight wins.
"This was a great win for us today and it was awesome to see us put together a strong fourth quarter to pull away," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "We really stepped up defensively by taking away their three-point opportunities in transition while our offense made some big three-point baskets and did a nice job getting the ball in the paint and attacking their pressure in the fourth quarter. It's exciting that our offense is continuing to grow and get better. Increasing our production on that end of the floor to 70 and 79 points this week in the two games was awesome to see."
Michigan Tech (16-7, 12-3 GLIAC) quickly established a lead that they would never relinquish, although Saginaw Valley State (4-18, 4-11, GLIAC) would remain within striking distance through the first three quarters. Junior Abbie Botz fired in the first four points of the game on her way to a career high 22 Saturday afternoon. Botz immediately attacked the paint for a pair of layups to make it a 4-0 score in the opening minute.
The Cardinals then got on the board when Maddie Burns connected from behind the arc to make it a 4-3 contest with 8:56 on the clock. The Huskies bumped the lead out to seven points with just under four minutes remaining in the first when junior Ellie Welsh dropped in a triple, creating a margin of 11-4. Saginaw Valley State closed the gap to four twice before Tech reeled off 5-0 run to close out the period. Freshman Ellie Mackay connected from downtown and junior Hannah Hobson banked in a layup with 27 seconds before the horn sounded.
Holding a 21-12 lead at the close of the first, the Huskies immediately added to it on another layup by Botz in the first minute of the second quarter. Tech continued to maintain a double digit lead at the 4:40 mark when Mackay dialed in a mid-range jumper, granting the Huskies a 31-20 cushion. However, the Cardinals made up some ground before the intermission on the strength of 7-2 run to close the quarter. Hannah Settingsgaard posted the final points of the half on a layup to make it a 33-27 ballgame at the break.
The third quarter followed the same pattern as the first two with Tech grabbing the momentum early. The Huskies engineered a 7-2 scoring run at the outset of the second half, pushing the gap out to 43-31 with just over six minutes to play in the third. Mackay capped the burst with one of her five three-point baskets on the afternoon.
Once again though, the Cardinals were able to keep themselves within striking distance of Tech. Saginaw Valley State trimmed Tech's lead to single digits at 50-42 courtesy of a layup by Kyndall Spires and then generated the final two points of the third. Kaitlyn Geers found the bottom of the net on a layup, resulting in a 50-44 lead for Tech with 10 minutes left to decide the outcome.
As was the case in fourth quarters a week ago at Purdue Northwest and Parkside, the Huskies took command of the scoreboard in the final frame. On Saturday it was the combination of strong defense and an offense in rhythm that kept the Cardinals from scoring for the first six minutes of the fourth.
The offense exploded for a 17-0 run to turn the tide against the Cardinals. Freshman Sloane Zenner, Botz, Hobson, and senior Elizabeth Kelliher combined for Tech's offensive production during that six-minute span. Hobson closed out the run when she found the target from three-point land to make it 67-44 with 4:13 to play. Tech's largest lead of the afternoon at 79-54 occurred on the final bucket, thanks to a layup by senior Isabella O'Brien with 25 seconds remaining.
Botz poured in a career high 22 points, converting on 10 of 16 shots from the field, to power the Huskies offense on Saturday afternoon. Botz also matched a season and career high with 17 rebounds against the Cardinals. Botz fired in 21 points at Northwood earlier this season and grabbed 17 boards against Minnesota State back on November 18th.
Three other Tech players reached double digit point totals as well with Mackay adding in 17 points to the stat sheet. Kelliher delivered 13 points and Hobson chipped in 11 points in the Tech victory. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter set a new career milestone with a game high 10 assists while Kelliher blocked three shots and came up with a trio of steals.
As a team, the Huskies were successful on 33 of 63 shots from the field (52.4%), knocked down 11 of 19 triple tries (57.9%), and were 2 for 2 at the free throw line (100.0%). Tech logged 40 points in the paint and forced 14 Saginaw Valley State turnovers which led to 17 points on the offensive end of the floor. Tech had a slight edge in rebounds at 34-33.
Settingsgaard led the Cardinals with 14 points which were all scored in the first half. Aaliah Hill followed with eight points and eight rebounds while Maddie Barrie contributed eight points and four rebounds. Saginaw Valley State found the target on 20 of 52 attempts from the field (38.5%), made 8 of 20 chances from behind the arc (40.0%), and converted 6 of 12 opportunities at the free throw line (50.0%).
The Huskies will open a four game road trip on Thursday night when they travel to Lake Superior State. Tech topped the Lakers in the first meeting of the season on January 12th in Houghton 67-40. Thursday's tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m. eastern time.