Wake up call
No. 1 Houghton comes alive to beat No. 4 Marquette in double overtime
HOUGHTON — Following a few missed defensive assignments to start the second half, Houghton head coach Julie Filpus called timeout and got into her team.
That was the tipping point.
For 18 minutes and 9 seconds, the No. 1 Houghton Gremlins were out of synch and outworked by the No. 4 Marquette Redettes. Trailing 27-19, the Gremlins lacked any sense of urgency.
“Sometimes our girls have a hard time talking (on defense),” Filpus said, “and we stress talk on defense, how it engages you and the defense. Something so little as that I think woke everybody up.”
You didn’t have to have perfect hearing to comprehend the intensity in Filpus’ words during the break, but that impromptu timeout ignited Houghton’s comeback and propelled them to a 46-40 double overtime win over the Redettes Monday in Houghton.
After the timeout, Houghton(16-0) held Marquette (14-2) to just 13 points on 5 of 28 shooting over the final 21:51. The Gremlins’ defensive rotations were spot on, cutting off dribble drives and forcing Marquette to shoot over their length time and time again.
“(Houghton) guards really well,” Marquette head coach Ben Smith said. “We didn’t make enough plays where we needed to be, and (Houghton) did enough to make plays down the stretch.”
In a game where lengthy, athletic guards won out on the defensive end for both teams, Houghton exploited Marquette in the post with junior Kara Pietila. Utilizing a low, wide base, Pietila was able to routinely catch deep on the block before starting her initial move. She scored 22 of Houghton’s 29 points in the second half and overtime, converting on 9 of 13 shots. All of this came after she didn’t register a shot attempt in the first half.
“A lot of my teammates were finding me by driving and kicking it out to me,” Pietila said. “I was kind of pushing (my defender) up the lane a little bit so they’d be behind me.
“I feel like I put it together more than I did in other games.”
She certainly did.
Pietila scored nine of the 12 points during Houghton’s 12-0 run to go ahead 31-29 with 5:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve felt that in some of our games, we haven’t taken advantage of our abilities to score in the low post,” Filpus said. “The girls were much more patient in the third, fourth quarters and overtimes. They got the ball to her and she delivered for us in a very big way tonight.”
In double overtime, she scored all eight of Houghton’s points including two clutch free throws for a 44-40 advantage with 55.9 seconds left, and a game-clinching layup off a pass from junior Harlee Froberg in the final seconds.
All athletes have various ways they deal with late-game pressure, but Pietila’s may be more unique than others.
“I don’t think I looked at the scoreboard the whole time,” she said. “I was just so focused on the game, I wasn’t worried about the score or anything.
“I rather not know, then I don’t have as much pressure on me to make it — or at least I don’t think I do — so I just worry about putting (shots) in.”
Marquette couldn’t get anything to go in as Houghton rallied. The Redettes missed their first six shots in the fourth quarter before junior Claudia Hale swished a 3 from the corner to give her team a 32-31 lead with 3:41 to play.
Marquette had a chance to win in regulation, holding the ball for the last shot with under a minute to play. But with 11 seconds left, Houghton jumped a pass for a steal and went the length of the court before the layup was off the mark as Marquette senior Amber Huebner challenged the shot.
In a strange turn of events, the clock stopped with 3 seconds left, allowing Marquette to secure the rebound and get off a 10-foot jumper before the buzzer in about 8 seconds of real time.
“We had an isolation for Amber we were trying to get into,” Smith said, ‘but then it got poked away and they took it to the other end.
“The clock stopped, and that would have been interesting for the officials if that would’ve gone in on our end.
“But again, it’s kind of one of those get-used-to-the-moment things. You can’t make it bigger than what it is. You have to just be strong, win your possession and if the shot doesn’t go in, the shot doesn’t go in.”
Marquette forced the second overtime when junior Stasha Warchock finished a driving layup with 13 seconds remaining, tying the game at 38. After a timeout, Houghton didn’t get a shot off in the final 4.5 seconds.
Huebner led Marquette with 16 points and started the second overtime with a jumper for a 40-38 lead. However, from there, Marquette turned the ball over twice and was 0 for 2.
For the game, Houghton finished 16 of 39 from the field (41 percent), held a 33-27 rebounding edge and had 19 turnovers.
The Redettes shot 15 of 53 (28 percent) and had 12 turnovers.
Houghton and Marquette will play again, this time in Marquette, on Feb. 16.
Next, Houghton hosts Ontonagon on Thursday.
Marquette 11 13 5 5 4 2 — 40
Houghton 7 10 9 8 4 8 — 46
Marquette — Peterson 3, Huebner 16, Hale 11, Grange 2, Warchock 8. F: 15; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 7-10; 3-point field goals: Peterson, Warchock.
Houghton — Dillinger 4, Ryynanen 6, Zenner 10, Froberg 4, Pietila 22. F: 10; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 12-14; 3-point field goals: Ryynanen 2.