BIG RAPIDS - The Michigan Tech women's basketball team was unable to shut down Ferris State stud Sarah DeShone Thursday night, with the senior managing 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting despite tough efforts from Sam Hoyt and Emma Veach defensively.
But with freshmen Dani Blake and MacKenzie Perttu inserted as starters in place of juniors Paige Albi and Taylor Stippel, however, the Huskies were able to blank DeShone's teammates, holding the rest of the Bulldogs to 8-of-37 shooting as Tech pulled into first place in the GLIAC North Division with a 60-46 win in Big Rapids, Mich.
"I thought it was our best defensive effort that we have had in a long time," Tech head coach Kim Cameron said in a phone interview Thursday. "To hold a fast-paced team like Ferris to 46 points is phenomenal."
Along with harassing shooters defensively, Tech put together one of its best rebounding games as well.
Despite 35 opportunities, the Bulldogs managed to only grab eight offensive rebounds, failing to create after the first shot.
Jillian Ritchie impressed particularly on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds to go with 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting.
"Her stat line was darn near perfect," Cameron said. "Jillian hit a couple really big threes. Her first one, right at the end of the shot clock in the first half, was a huge, huge lift for us."
In what is starting to become eerily routine, true freshman Kylie Moxley once again dominated off the bench, leading the team with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting and grabbing two offensive rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
It was more of the same from Moxley - she posts hard, demands the ball and gets shots up within five feet of the rim.
"This was probably the toughest defense that she has played against," Cameron said. "It was neat to see her get challenged and perform against physical play. She was standout tonight. Her presence inside frees up our perimeter."
After failing to close out Minnesota-Duluth and Indianapolis in losses earlier this year, the Huskies had no such problems putting Ferris away Thursday night even when DeShone heated up near game's end.
"I thought we handled the pressure of the situation at the end of the game very well," Cameron said. "We lost a bit of the lead but no one panicked."
Albi (four minutes) and Stippel (nine) were largely absent from the game plan after starting all previous games.
"We are looking for some additional production. We are looking for some big starts, coming out strong and hard at people," Cameron said. "(Blake) raised her level of intensity and raised her level of commitment this last week. See showed us she can have good games against big opponents and she causes so much problems with her length when she is focused."