HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech women's basketball team entered Thursday's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup with Findlay knowing the outcome likely hinged on how they handled the Oilers' fullcourt press. The Huskies turned the ball over 19 times.
Head coach Kim Cameron stressed all week getting the ball inside Findlay's zone defense in the halfcourt. Tech shot 38 percent for the game and of their 22 made field goals, nine were 3-pointers.
Finally, it was quite apparent that stopping Findlay forward Kayla Brown would stop the Oilers offense. Brown finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
Michigan Tech’s Danielle Blake attempts a shot against the defense of Findlay’s Kelsey Lewis (right)?and Kayla Brown during Thursday’s game at the SDC?Gym. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Unsurprisingly, Tech lost its first conference game of the season and second overall 73-65.
"Their press bothered us, that was obvious," Cameron said. "I thought there were times we could have been more aggressive to break the press and I thought we could have attacked it more.
"We just wouldn't go to the basket.
FINDLAY (5-0, 3-0 GLIAC)
Margaret Wuebker 0-1 0-0 0, Tai Dotson 3-5 4-8 10, Kayla Brown 7-16 4-5 19, Karli Beasley 1-6 0-0 2; Ashley Andrews 4-7 2-5 14; Bailee Maggert 0-1 0-0 0; Kaleigh Kenny 2-3 4-4 9; Kristin Klausing 0-1 2-2 2; Kendra Elam 3-4 1-2 9; Lacey Kessler 1-1 1-1 3; Alyssa Grevenkamp 0-1 0-0 0; Kelsey Lewis 1-1 3-4 5, Andrea Kras 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 22-47 21-31 73.
MICHIGAN TECH (4-2, 2-1 GLIAC)
Jillian Ritchie 1-5 0-0 3, Taylor Stippel 2-13 2-2 6; Emma Veach 2-4 2-3 6, Sam Hoyt 5-13 0-1 14, Paige Albi 3-7 2-2 11; Michelle Gaedke 0-0 0-0 0; Kylie Moxley 7-9 1-2 15; Mackenzie Perttu 1-5 4-4 7, Kelcey Traynoff 0-0 0-0 0; Danielle Blake 1-1 1-2 3; Emily Harrison 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 22-57 12-16 65.
Halftime score: Tech 43, Findlay 42.
3-point field goals - UF 8-12 (Brown 1-2, Beasley 0-2, Andrews 4-4, Kenny 1-1, Elam 2-2, Grevenkamp 0-1); Tech 9-23 (Ritchie 1-5, Veach 0-2, Hoyt 4-6, Albi 3-6, Perttu 1-4); Fouled out - UF, None; Tech, Moxley; Rebounds - UF 34 (Wuebker and Dotson 4), Tech 33 (Stippel 7); Assists - UF 13 (Brown 4), Tech 18 (Stippel and Albi 4); Total fouls - UF 16, Tech 21; Technical fouls - none; Attendance - 1,307.
"It was disappointing that we didn't attack more."
With a one-point lead at intermission, the Huskies led by six four minutes into the second half but a nine-minute scoring drought stretching from the twelve to the three minute mark saw Tech losing by 10 by the time it rediscovered its footing.
A switch in defenses by the Oilers from a 2-3 zone to a switching man-to-man contributed to the malaise.
"In the halfcourt I was surprised by how much their defense bothered us," Cameron said.
"They end up going man (in the second half) and we are totally used to that but we ended up with an eight-, nine-minute drought of not scoring. That was hard because I thought some of the shots that we were getting were very good shots."
The Black and Gold turned it over seven times in that scoreless stretch - after giving it away just six times in the 43-point first half - and many possessions had the same theme.
Senior point guard Sam Hoyt, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and five turnovers, would spend valuable seconds beating the press and then the offense would devolve into a game of hot potato around the perimeter. With so much energy spent bringing the ball up the floor, Hoyt was never able to find her rhythm shooting.
"The problem was that no one else wanted to take the ball," Cameron said. "And that was very difficult for (Hoyt) and she was getting frustrated and I don't blame her. She was always getting the ball back and we couldn't run her off of any screens and we couldn't get her any open shots. We have more options for who can bring the ball up and they need to be more confident in that."
Not helping matters was a career worst shooting night from junior forward Taylor Stippel, who finished with six points on 2-of-13 shooting.
"Taylor had a lot of open shots and she is going to make those in normal days," Cameron said. "That is unfortunate because we run so much for her and she is so important to us. We need her and she knows that. She is never going to (shoot that poorly) again. I really don't think she will."
The Huskies spent much of the week preparing for Brown to run through a series of screens before launching a 3-pointer, and the on-ball defenders performed well in that regard, holding her to two three attempts all game.
Unfortunately, Brown is also adept at taking the ball to the hoop, and a breakdown in help led to a plethora of short runners.
"We lost all of our team defense concepts, especially in the first half," Cameron said. "They were driving, we were missing helpsides, we were missing sinks, we were letting them go middle - concepts that we have always had. We just weren't focused."
In the silver lining department, Kylie Moxley continued her nascent ascent with a team-leading 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
She proved the only Husky capable of posting hard and beating the Oilers defense inside.
But even Moxley's night was slightly marred, as she took a hand to the nose in the second half and was only able to play 13 minutes with exposed blood and foul trouble keeping her on the bench.
"We did a great job getting the ball into Kylie Moxley, that was obvious that was working," Cameron said. "We didn't have anybody else that could step up and do the same things that she did once she came out of the game."