HOUGHTON - Three years ago Emma Veach transferred from Grand Valley State to Michigan Tech in a rare intra-conference move after winning the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year award and a place on the all-conference team.
She calls it the best decision of her life.
And even now, though Veach believes she found the perfect program for her skills and personality, she can't help but play with that little extra edge when Grand Valley shares the floor.
Michigan Tech’s Emma Veach releases a shot during the first half Saturday against Grand?Valley St. Veach made five threes and scored 21 points in Tech’s 69-58 win at the SDC?Gym. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Grand Valley State’s Alex Stelfox fouls Michigan Tech’s Sam Hoyt in the second half of Saturday’s game at the SDC Gym. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"It is always one I definitely want to win," Veach said. "Coming up here was the best decision I have ever made, but getting a win against them is icing on the cake."
In January, Veach put together an effective all-around showing in a 76-64 loss at Allendale with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The one thing missing from the performance, however, was volume. A pass-first facilitator, Veach will often sacrifice a shot to try and set up her teammates - occasionally to the team's detriment, as Veach shoots an uber-efficient 52 percent from the floor and from three.
Grand Valley St. (15-6, 11-6 GLIAC)
Briauna Taylor 6-18 4-4 17; Alex Stelfox 4-7 1-2 9; Breanna Kellogg 0-4 0-0 0; Meryl Cripe 1-1 0-0 3; Dani Crandall 3-6 4-6 11; Kat LaPrairie 5-11 1-2 12; Kellie Watson 2-6 2-2 6; Jammie Botruff 0-0 0-0 0; Katherine Knudsen 0-0 0-0 0; Jill Steinmetz 0-0 0-0 0; Daina Grazulis 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 21-54 12-16 58.
Michigan Tech (15-6, 13-4 GLIAC)
Jillian Ritchie 3-4 4-4 12; Kylie Moxley 3-5 3-4 9; Emma Veach 7-10 2-3 21; Sam Hoyt 7-18 6-6 23; Danielle Blake 1-5 0-1 2; Michelle Gaedke 0-1 1-2 1; Kerry Gardner 0-0 0-0 0; Paige Albi 0-5 1-2 1; Emily Harrison 0-2 0-0 0; Totals 21-50 17-22 69.
Halftime score: GVSU 31, Tech 30.
3-point goals - GVSU 4-15 (Taylor 1-4, Kellogg 0-2, Cripe 1-1, Crandall 1-2, LaPrairie 1-4, Watson 0-2), Tech 10-15 (Ritchie 2-2, Veach 5-6, Hoyt 3-6, Albi 0-1); Rebounds - GVSU 35 (Stelfox 8), Tech 31 (Veach and Blake 7); Assists - GVSU 7 (Taylor 3), Tech 8 (Hoyt 4); Total fouls - GVSU 19, Tech 17; Fouled out - none; Technical fouls - none. Attendance - 1,201.
Saturday though, that wasn't a problem. Veach poured in 21 points (5-of-6 shooting from three-point range) and the Huskies sent the Lakers packing 69-58.
"We challenged her to be aggressive," Cameron said.
"She holds herself back a little bit sometimes, but she didn't tonight, and you can see what she is capable of. This is efficiency at its finest. We are going to try and keep doing that."
"Coach Cameron told me to be more aggressive so I was just trying to be more aggressive," Veach added. "And then Sam (Hoyt) was able to find me on some penetration because she attracts so much attention with her abilities. So she found me a couple of times and I was able to knock them down."
In the January loss, Grand Valley senior forward Briauna Taylor basically did whatever she wanted, scoring 30 points on 10-of-24 shooting with 12 free throw attempts. Worse, her teammates benefited from the extra attention Taylor received, shooting 56 percent from the floor to put up the most points Tech has allowed in conference all season.
Saturday, Taylor managed 17 points but it took her 18 shots to get there and the team as a whole shot just 39 percent.
For the Huskies, the defensive surge started with freshman Danielle Blake and sophomore Jillian Ritchie splitting time on Taylor. Blake's length and Ritchie's strength forced Taylor into low-efficiency pull-up jumpers and she took just four trips to the free-throw line.
"Dani and Jill played outstanding today," Veach said. "(Taylor) is amazing. I saw an image of her in a previous game, and her head looked like it was even with the backboard when she pulled up for a jump shot. they forced tough shots all day, and she scored almost half as many points as last time.
"I love being able to have two defenders who are really comfortable on one of the league's best players," Cameron added.
With Taylor hassled for her 38 minutes on the floor, no other Laker shooters were able to get hot, with Grand Valley misfiring on 11-of-15 three-point attempts.
"We had a ton of focus," Cameron said. "And that was a point of emphasis, because you can't let their best player get 30 and everyone else be great. we took a lot of pride in not letting that happen."
The Huskies pulled away for good midway through the second half by pouring in 10 points in less than three minutes to turn a six point-game into a 14-point lead. Either Sam Hoyt (23 points) or Veach were involved in every basket.
"If you can have one of them driving and have the other back her up with the ability to shoot a three I mean, pick your poison," Cameron said. "That is a heck of a one-two punch. For such a big game, I thought those two seniors really stepped up."