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Tech women miss NCAA Tournament

March 5, 2012 - Michael Bleach
This is the story written for today's paper. I will have more notes, quotes and thoughts later today.

HOUGHTON — For the first time in five years, the Michigan Tech women’s basketball team will not be dancing in March.

The Huskies fell 80-70 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semifinals to Ashland Saturday, and with the loss Tech (20-7) failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Tech reached the National Championship game last year and had achieved three consecutive Elite Eight berths.

“Disappointing to say the least from everyone,” Huskies coach Kim Cameron said in a phone interview Sunday. “They haven’t been in that situation before. The new girls didn't really understand. The older girls it really impacted them; they were crushed.

“The season just comes to a stop so quickly. It is hard to comprehend that.”

Tech’s chances for a fifth consecutive bid were dealt a sharp blow when Maryville, the No. 6 seed in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, earned the GLVC automatic qualifying bid by winning the conference tournament. The Huskies had been at No. 9 in the NCAA Midwest Regional Rankings — one spot out of qualifying — before the GLIAC Tournament started.

Cameron’s squad went 0-5 this year against teams that qualified in the Midwest Region, with two losses each to Ashland and Ferris State and a defeat at Indianapolis.

Cameron said a win against any of those, especially against Ashland three weeks ago, and she feels the Huskies are still playing.

“You feel like you have had a successful season, one basket away from making it (against Ashland),” Cameron said. “They know our best basketball was at the end of the year. It just makes the early games that much more important.

“You have to be really ready to go when the season starts. We didn't have a bad year. Twenty wins, two First-Team All Conference Players, Two All-Defense players. There were so many things that were good that we pride ourselves on. Especially (leading the league in defense).

“Everyone needs to understand that this is not OK — which is hard to say because I think we had a great season. We would make a run as a top-eight team. And if we beat the No. 1 team in the region we are in. Just one basket away.”

Against Ashland, Eagle’s GLIAC Player of the Year Kari Daugherty dominated.

The junior forward dropped 31 points and grabbed 20 rebounds and Ashland shot 51.7 percent from the field. Fellow ALL-GLIAC member Jena Stutzman got 28 points off 6-of-8 threes as the guard was able to consistently find open space in the corner when Daugherty penetrated.

"She is really good. Really good,” Cameron said of Daugherty. “We had our best defender on her, and everyone else knows where she is at and she still manages 31 against Lindsey (Lindstrom).

“We made some great runs at them. But those are the times you have to get stops, and we just couldn't muster up the energy to do it.”



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