PREVIEW: Huskies Host Northern Michigan in Regular Season Finale

Elizabeth Kelliher attempting a layup

Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF)
Thurs. Feb. 28 • 5:30 p.m. vs Northern Michigan
Michigan Tech (19-8, 15-4 GLIAC) vs Nothern Michigan (20-7, 15-4 GLIAC)
Radio: WKMJ Mix 93 FM (Mitch Lake)
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Michigan Tech split two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games this past week, defeating Davenport 72-53 on Thursday before falling at No. 11 Grand Valley State Saturday 75-46 Saturday. The win over the Panthers was the ninth straight at the time for Tech and following Saturday's setback to the Lakers, the Huskies have still won 12 of their last 14 contests. The Huskies began the game with a 14-2 scoring run and outpaced the Panthers 23-13 in the fourth quarter to lock down their ninth straight win. The Huskies had five players with 10 or more points Thursday night, led by senior Elizabeth Kelliher with a game high 17 points. Kelliher converted 8 of 11 shots from the field, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots. Senior Isabella O'Brien was 5 of 9 from the floor on her way to a career best 13 points followed by sophomore Cassidy Trotter and freshman Sloane Zenner with 11 points apiece. Junior Abbie Botz chipped in 10 points and secured a team high eight rebounds. Trotter distributed a team high six assists and had five steals on the defensive end of the floor.

On Saturday at Grand Valley State, the Huskies got off to a slow start before closing the game with a strong fourth quarter, outscoring the Lakers 22-20. Junior Ellie Welsh and junior Hannah Hobson guided the Huskies with nine points apiece Saturday afternoon followed by Trotter with eight points and seven rebounds. Freshman Ellie Mackay and Botz chipped in seven points each.

Michigan Tech will honor two seniors between games against rival Northern Michigan in the SDC Gym Thursday night. Forward Elizabeth Kelliher and forward Isabella O'Brien will be recognized for their contributions to the program during their careers at Tech. A banquet honoring the senior classes for both the women's and men's programs will be held in the SDC Gym shortly after the conclusion of the doubleheader.

The Michigan Tech Student Athlete Advisory Committee is putting on a shoe and boot drive to collect donations for the Salvation Army in Hancock and a Miracle Minute to raise funds for a former women's basketball player. SAAC will be collecting items at Thursday's basketball game and Friday's hockey game from the time doors open until the end of the first half for basketball and end of the first period for hockey. New or gently used shoes, boots, and other footwear are acceptable. Collection bins for this drive will also be placed in the Michigan Tech Administration building by the elevators and at the SDC Ticket Office from April 1-26. SAAC is also sponsoring a Miracle Minute fundraiser for the family of former Michigan Tech women's basketball player Sarah Yellen. Sarah's four-year-old son Mason is going through radiation treatments at Rochester Mayo Clinic for a brain tumor. Donations will be accepted at Thursday's basketball and buckets will be passed in the crowd during the second media timeout of both games.

The Huskies are 27 games into the season and continue to rank near the top in multiple GLIAC statistical categories. The Huskies are fifth in the conference in scoring at 65.1 points per game, fifth in the conference in assists per game (14.3), third in opponents field goal percentage (36.5%), and first in opponents three-point percentage (27.8%). The Huskies are third in points allowed per game (56.4), fourth in field goals made per game (25.0), third in field goal percentage (43.6%), fifth in three-point baskets made per game (7.2) and second in blocks per game (4.8). Kelliher checks in at No. 2 in the rankings in field goal percentage (59.0%) while Mackay is sixth in three-point shooting percentage (40.9%). Trotter is fifth in the GLIAC in assists per game (3.7) and  Welsh is 17th in assists per game (2.2). Botz ranks seventh in the conference in rebounding (8.1) while Kelliher is fifth in blocks per game (2.1).

Northern Michigan leads the all-time series with Michigan Tech coming into Thursday's game 53-46, but the Huskies have claimed victories in each of the last four meetings with the Wildcats. Earlier this season, Tech held on to edge Northern Michigan 55-53 on January 26th in Marquette. The Huskies led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats closed the gap to one in the final seconds. Botz paced the Huskies with 13 points followed by Kelliher with 11 points in that win. Lexi Smith guided the Wildcats with 12 points followed by Elizabeth Lutz with 11 points. There is a lot riding on Thursday's game in Houghton with the winner clinching the GLIAC North Division title and the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. The outcome could also play a pivotal role in future NCAA Midwest rankings.

Northern Michigan is 20-7 overall and 15-4 in the GLIAC heading into the final regular season game of the 2018-19 campaign. The Wildcats are coming off a 64-42 victory at Davenport Saturday and are winners of six of their last seven with the only loss in that stretch coming at the hands of Grand Valley State 50-37 last Thursday. The Wildcats boast the top ranked defense in the conference through 27 games, limiting opposing offenses to 50.7 points per game. Northern Michigan holds opponents to a 34.0 percent shooting clip from the field, which is also tops in the GLIAC. In addition, the Wildcats pace the GLIAC when it comes to rebounding margin this year, out-rebounding opposing clubs by nearly 11 boards per night.

Guard Darby Youngstrom guides the Wildcats' offense with a 10.9 points per game scoring average followed by Lexi Smith at 10.4 points per contest. Youngstrom and Smith also share the team lead in assists at 2.1 per contest while Erin Honkala reels in a team leading 5.6 boards each time she takes the floor. As a team, the Wildcats are generating 60.5 points per game and converting on 41.8 percent of their shot attempts from the field.

Sam Hoyt was named as the ninth head coach of the Michigan Tech women's basketball program, Director of Athletics Suzanne Sanregret announced Tuesday (May 29). Hoyt returns to Tech from the University of Sioux Falls where she served as an assistant coach. Hoyt was a standout player for the Huskies, helping lead the program to the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship game as well as garnering multiple individual awards, including All-American Honorable Mention honors. Hoyt brings a wealth of coaching experience to Tech from both the NCAA Division I and II levels. In Hoyt's most recent stop at the University of Sioux Falls, she was involved in all facets of the program. She played an integral role in player development, served as the recruiting coordinator, created scouting reports, ran summer camps, and had responsibilities for film breakdown. Hoyt is Michigan Tech's seventh all-time leading scorer, amassing 1,434 career points during her four-year career which spanned 124 games. Hoyt owns the second highest career free throw percentage in program history at 84.8 percent and is tied for the second highest single season free throw percentage at 89.5 percent. The Huskies boasted an overall record of 103-22 during her career as a player.

The Huskies open the postseason Tuesday night in the GLIAC Quarterfinals at the SDC Gym beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Huskies are guaranteed at the least the No. 4 seed and could earn the No. 3 seed with a win over the Wildcats. The opponent will be determined by the outcome of Thursday's games around the conference.