No. 16 Michigan Tech women rally to defeat Ferris State

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan Tech women’s basketball team rallied for a thrilling 80-77 GLIAC victory at Ferris State on the road Thursday night. The Huskies battled back from a 13-point deficit in the second half to notch a crucial win in the final seconds. Senior Brenna Heise gave Tech the lead at 78-76 with 31 seconds left and the team held onto the advantage as the final buzzer sounded.

“Our fourth quarter was clearly the difference in the game tonight,” Michigan Tech coach Kim Cameron said. “Being able to stay in there and fight back from what felt like a 20-point deficit was big. We had a tough time with their pressure tonight, and it’s something that we are working on and still need to get better at.

“Ferris State is a really good team with Rachel McInerney inside, and their guards are very quick to the basket which makes them tough to defend. In the fourth quarter, we really buckled down defensively and came up with a couple of big rebounds. I thought Elizabeth Kelliher and Sarah LewAllen gave us some key minutes, defensively, in the final quarter. It was a very physical game and I thought we handled that much better and finished plays down the stretch. We are continuing to get better as a team and will look to prepare for another road test at Lake Superior State on Saturday.”

Trailing 58-48 with just over four minutes to go in the third, the Huskies sliced the deficit in half on a Hannah Stoll layup and conventional 3-point play from Lindsay Winter at the 2:30 mark. However, the Bulldogs prevented Tech from drawing any closer than five during the remainder of the third period and carried a 65-58 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Michigan Tech remained persistent and got within three points at 69-66 on a layup by Kelliher with 6:34 to go in the fourth. The Bulldogs went up by as many as seven points again before two Heise free throws made it a three point contest once again at 73-70 with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter. Two more Heise free throws brought the Huskies within one at 73-72 a few seconds later, but Tech couldn’t quite overtake Ferris State until the final minute.

Adrienne Anderson kept Ferris State ahead by two points at 76-74 with 1:31 remaining, but the lead for the Bulldogs would evaporate 11 seconds later. Kelliher got behind the defense for a layup to knot the score at 76, and then a Bulldog turnover granted the Huskies an opportunity to go in front, which they took advantage of.

Heise made the go-ahead layup off an assist by Kelli Guy with 30.5 seconds to play, and two clutch free throws from Winter helped seal the 80-77 win. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs missed three free throws while the Tech defense buckled down to force a tough 3-point shot at the buzzer by Bush, which was off target.

All five of Tech’s starters had 10 points or more, led by Heise with a team-high 19 points. Guy closed the contest with 17 points followed by Kelliher with 16 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Winter chipped in 12 points, nine assists, and six rebounds while Stoll rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. LaFave finished Thursday’s game with six points on the stat sheet.

As a team, the Huskies found the target on 30 of 72 shots from the field (41.7 percent), they were 5 of 20 from behind the arc (25 percent), and 15 of 16 at the free throw line. Tech’s defense forced 13 turnovers which led to 14 points on the offensive end of the floor. The Huskies also hauled down 14 offensive rebounds which produced 20 second-chance points.

The Bulldogs were powered by McInerney with a game-high 30 points and 16 rebounds. Ferris State out-rebounded the Huskies 43-35 and had 48 points in the paint.

The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Lake Superior State for another GLIAC contest starting at 1 p.m. The Lakers fell to Northern Michigan on Thursday at home 79-63.