HOUGHTON - Once the Michigan Tech women's basketball team got a grip on its game with Lake Superior State Saturday, it held the Lakers at arm's length all day for a 57-38 victory in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
The Huskies picked a good day to have their second-weakest offensive performance of the season, because they had their best defensive performance by a wide margin.
"To hold a team to under 20 in the first half and continue that throughout the second half with your line-up changes and their line-up changes and Maria Blazejewski on the other team is fantastic. For us to be able to do that at this point of the season and really make an emphasis on it, especially on a night where we're not shooting the ball very well, it proves again how important your defense is," Tech coach Kim Cameron said.
Michigan Tech’s Jillian Ritchie releases a jump shot in the first half of Saturday’s game against Lake Superior State at the SDC?Gym. The?Huskies won 57-38. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Tech's previous low allowed was 45 against Lake Erie, the worst scoring offense in the GLIAC South Division. Against the worst offense in the North, the Huskies needed about five minutes to get their bearings before the locks went on.
The Lakers got lay-ups on three of their first four possessions for a 6-2 lead. Immediately after the media timeout 5:28 in, Blazejewski made a pair of free throws to make it 10-6 and the Lakers spent the next 6:59 of gameplay stuck on that very number. In the interim, Tech scored 13 points and held the Lakers, who last won in early January, to 0-for-8 shooting with three turnovers.
"We set some defensive goals before the game and we wanted to make sure everyone was stepping up to reach our team defensive goals. We know their players, we know who's going to shoot, who they're looking to get the ball to," Tech's Michelle Gaedke said.
Lake Superior State (5-19, 4-16 GLIAC)
Maria Blazejewski 5-15 8-8 18; Candice LaCross 2-5 2-2 7; Kandace Crittendon 1-6 1-2 3; Taylor Greene 1-3 0-0 2; Raven Trammell 0-5 0-0 0; Stephanie Fisher 1-6 2-2 4; Megan Manninen 0-0 0-0 0; Katie Schild 0-0 0-2 0; Kaylyn Counts 0-2 0-0 0; Alex Morrow 0-2 0-0 3; Laura VanEs 2-5 0-0 4; Totals 12-49 13-16 38.
Michigan Tech (18-7, 16-5 GLIAC)
Jillian Ritchie 3-9 1-2 9; Kylie Moxley 4-9 5-6 13; Emma Veach 2-7 2-2 7; Sam Hoyt 2-11 3-4 8; Danielle Blake 0-3 1-3 1; Michelle Gaedke 1-4 0-0 3; Kerry Gardner 0-0 0-0 0; Kelcey Traynoff 1-2 1-2 4; Paige Albi 1-2 1-2 4; Emily Harrison 3-7 0-0 6; Heather Kessler 1-1 0-0 2; Totals 18-55 14-21 57.
3-point goals - LSSU 1-7 (LaCross 1-2, Trammell 0-3, Fisher 0-2); Tech 7-21 (Ritchie 2-5, Veach 1-4, Hoyt 1-6, Gaedke 1-3, Traynoff 1-2, Albi 1-1); Rebounds - LSSU 35 (3 with 4); Tech 44 (Harrison 7); Assists - LSSU 7 (Crittendon 3), Tech 12 (Gaedke 5); Total fouls - LSSU 15, Tech 12; Fouled out - none; Technical fouls - none.
Though the usual sources of offense were just off - Sam Hoyt was 2-for-11 from the field for eight points - the 13-0 run demonstrated the balance Tech had throughout the day.
Starter Emma Veach kicked in four on two free-throws and a tip-in, but Tech got two buckets in the post from center Emily Harrison and another morale-charging trey from guard Kelcey Traynoff.
"It's another one of those kind of momentum changers. The whole bench stands up, everybody's excited. Everybody gets kind of an extra burst of energy when she comes in and she's been fantastic shooting for us as of late," Cameron said.
Harrison has been averaging nearly eight points per game off the bench in the last four games and has seen her three highest minute totals in the last three games. She finished with six points and a game-high seven boards in 19 minutes.
"I thought she had a phenomenal game. I thought she was fantastic. I thought she's strung together a few good games at the end of the season. We need her now and she knows that," Cameron said.
Tech pushed the lead into double digits on a Jillian Ritchie three with 5:17 left in the half and it stayed that way the rest of the day, getting as big as 23 despite shooting just 13-for-55 (32.7 percent) from the field for the game.
Blazejewski, a two-time all-GLIAC forward, led the Lakers with 18 points, but on 5-of-15 field-goal shooting.
"Honestly, the only game plan for her is to not let her touch the basketball and she can't score," Cameron said. "It's Jillian Ritchie and Dani Blake's responsibility for that to happen. I thought Jillian Ritchie did a fantastic job on a really great player. I look and I know she ended up having 18 points, but Jillian made every single one of those very, very difficult for her and Dani Blake at the end made them very difficult for her."
The rest of the Lakers combined for 20 points on 7-of-34. LSSU shot an anemic 12-for-49 as a team and committed 14 turnovers.
Kylie Moxley led Tech with 13 points. Four others had at least six.
The Huskies (18-7, 16-5 GLIAC) are assured of a home quarterfinal in the GLIAC Tournament March 6. They closed within a half-game of Wayne State, which lost to Grand Valley Saturday, for the division lead, but would need to beat Northern Michigan at the SDC Saturday and get two losses from the Warriors this week.