HOUGHTON - Even missing a few pieces, Marquette proved it can set an effective trap Tuesday.
The Redettes' defense triggered a Houghton dry spell long enough to build just enough cushion for a hard-fought 38-32 victory on Opening Night.
Marquette played without 6-foot-3 center Daina Grazulis (illness) and lost another starter, Lauren Supron, to a blow to the head midway through the first half.
Houghton’s Rachel Crane looks to drive around Marquette’s Tabytha Boyak during the first quarter of Tuesday’s season-opening game at Houghton High School. The Redettes prevailed, 38-32. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"We kind of fed off our defense for a while," Marquette coach Ben Smith said.
Houghton scored the first four points as Marquette started 0-for-4 from the field, but the Redettes put on a half-court trap that the Gremlins couldn't get good shots against. Houghton went scoreless for more than seven minutes as Marquette went on a 12-0 run.
Houghton adjusted to an evenly but permissively called game and slowly got back into it, coming within a point in the fourth quarter, but the Redettes got the stops to finish out the win.
Marquette 10 12 4 12 - 38
Houghton 4 11 8 9 - 32
Marquette - Jade Ledy 14, Leslie Schmeling 7, Lauren Seibert 4, Lauren Supron 4, Tabytha Boyak 2, Melissa Tuma 2, Alyssa Lindberg 2, Emma Powers 2; FT: 6-10; Fouls: 11; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Schmeling 1, Ledy 1.
Houghton - Joey Carroll 10, Hannah Hill 8, Addy Grier-Welch 4, Ellie LeSatz 3, Mia Lubinski 3, Rachel Crane 2, Mary Gerard 2; FT: 7-11; Fouls: 12; Fouled out: Hill; 3-point field goals: Lubinski 1.
"There were times I thought we battled back with the physicalness of the game, but I thought Marquette had a slight advantage there. They have some strong, athletic girls out there and they aren't afraid to battle," Houghton coach Julie Filpus said.
The Gremlins were missing a key player as well - point guard Taylor Dillinger, who is recovering from a leg injury. Hannah Hill managed the offense in her absence and was the Gremlins' second-leading scorer with eight points, but the Gremlins' shooting (12-for-39 from the field for 30.8 percent) wasn't good enough to get over the top.
"That (the trap) along with some of the puppies we missed really hurt us down the stretch," Filpus said.
Rachel Crane's drive to the basket ended the Gremlin drought with 5:59 left in the first half and was followed by a Mia Lubinski triple (Houghton's only one of the game) to quickly close some of the gap. However, another Marquette surge made the score 22-15 at the half.
The Gremlins came out strong after the break and got junior forward Joey Carroll involved. Carroll scored all of her team-high 10 points in the second half. Her free throw with 4:53 to go cut the lead to 29-28.
Marquette intensified its defensive pressure late and got two key transition lay-ups from Jade Ledy and Lauren Seibert to make it 35-30 with 1:19 to go.
Carroll converted inside on the ensuing possession to make it a one-possession game again, but Marquette made three free throws down the stretch and got the requisite stops for the win.
Both sides agreed that it was a worthy test to kick off the season.
"We know we're gonna have to bring every effort and execute if we want to battle with them," Smith said. "They didn't cheat us again tonight."
Ledy led the Redettes, who shot 15-for-54 (28 percent) from the field, with 14 points. Leslie Schmeling added seven. The Redettes travel to Petoskey this weekend for a tournament.
"Marquette executed their game plan a little bit better and they may have had a little more confidence down the stretch than we did," Filpus said.
The Gremlins are at L'Anse Friday to open WestPAC play.
Marquette won the JV game 51-43, while Houghton prevailed 39-29 in the freshman contest.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.