No. 18 Tech women prepare for another defensive battle with GVSU

Michigan Tech’s Hannah Stoll shoots over Minnesota Duluth’s Sarah Grow during the first half Monday, at the Wood Gym. Stoll led Tech with a career-high 18 points. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — In three of the last five meetings between the Michigan Tech Huskies (8-1, 2-0 GLIAC) and Grand Valley State Lakers (7-1, 2-0 GLIAC), the difference was two points or less. And with each team off to hot starts, a dramatic finish could be in store for tonight’s matchup.

No. 18 Tech starts its first GLIAC road trip with a visit to Grand Rapids tonight at 8 p.m. for a GLIAC North showdown before playing at Purdue Northwest at 2 p.m.

“In years past, it’s been back and forth,” Tech coach Kim Cameron said of the rivalry with GVSU. The Lakers won three of the last five games against the Huskies, with neither team winning two straight over that span. “Just in general, it’s a defensive-minded game between both teams that you have to mentally get past the fact that it’s going to be hard to score. You have to mentally prepare for things to not go your way and to be able to overcome that.”

None of the winning teams over the last two seasons have scored at least 70 points in a game. Tech and GVSU epitomized a defensive battle when the Huskies earned a 49-48 win at home on Jan. 26, 2017.

Based on the games so far, it could be more of the same. GVSU leads the GLIAC in points allowed per game (57.3) while Tech is fourth (61.3). The two teams are tied for second in field goal percentage defense (36.8 percent).

“They’re big,” Cameron said of GVSU. “They’re really aggressive in the passing lanes and clog the middle so you can’t get anything easy or drives to the basket. They’re just tough.”

The Lakers are led by Taylor Parmley, who was just named the GLIAC North Player of the Week after averaging 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 65 percent. Parmley leads GVSU with 13.5 points per game.

“She is an unbelievable player,” Cameron said of the 5-foot-10 forward. “She’s undersized for a post player but never uses that as an excuse. She uses her body, uses her strength to score around the basket. They’re giving her the ball a lot on purpose, and she just finds a way to score. She just has a will to get to the basket.”

After addressing the defensive issues last week, Tech had its best weekend of the season on that end, limiting Saginaw Valley State to 37 points and Northwood to 54 to start GLIAC play 2-0. In addition to continuing the defensive improvement, it’s on the glass where Cameron wants her team to improve. Tech is eighth out of 12 teams in the league in rebounds per game (35.4).

“We’ve really worked on emphasizing that this week,” Cameron said. “Some of it is height, but there is a piece of it that you just have to get done. We have too many balls that go off our fingers or that we have an opportunity to get or tie up that we’re not doing. To us, size is not an excuse for anything and it never will be. That will be the case moving forward.”

Tech will close the road trip with a visit to Purdue Northwest. The Pride (1-5, 1-1 GLIAC) earned its first win of the season last weekend, defeating fellow GLIAC newcomer Davenport 63-59 on Saturday.