No. 18 Tech women look to bounce back after rough shooting night

Michigan Tech’s Elizabeth Kelliher passes against Tiffin on Jan. 6 at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — After excelling for most of the season as a jump-shooting team, the Michigan Tech Huskies discovered how dire things can be when everyone simultaneously has an off night. 

When the No. 18 Huskies scored a season-low 40 points in a 50-40 loss to Wayne State on Jan. 18, they shot just 3 of 20 from 3 (15 percent) and were 16 of 57 overall (28 percent). And with their jumpers not falling, the Huskies weren’t able to score in other ways — something coach Kim Cameron believes needs to change. 

“We rushed some shots, but we know that we’ve been squeaking by with jump shots,” Cameron said. “We’ve gotten comfortable with that and we’ve been successful there, but it got to the point where, unfortunately, everyone was struggling. That’s problem No. 1, but problem No. 2 is understanding when that’s happening, that you have to find different ways to score and find ways to get a basket or get to the free-throw line. 

“Are we good shooters? Yes … It’s hard because with this team, we truly believe like they’re going to make the next one. It never felt really panicky, it just felt like you needed one kid to get us going.” 

Tech will look to bounce back against Davenport today at Lake Superior State, and on Sunday when the Huskies host rival Northern Michigan. 

Davenport (7-10, 5-6) will challenge Tech with its aggressive 2-3 zone. Unlike most 2-3 zones that sag and allow people to shoot from the perimeter, Davenport’s thrives on defensive pressure. The Panthers are third in the GLIAC in steals per game (10.1) and second in blocks (4.8)

“They play with a ton of pressure in a zone,” Cameron said. “They’re in passing lanes, they’ll trap on the wings and do a lot of things that challenge you to play and find openings and create for each other. That’s something we’ve been really trying to work on, especially with the experience and seniors that we have.

“We have to be confident enough and bold enough to make plays … It’s going to challenge us to see openings and play the game more. I think it’ll be advantageous for us for every team we play from here on out.”

Tech (14-3, 8-2) is fifth in the country at protecting the basketball, committing just 11.9 turnovers per contest. 

Tech prevailed in the Dec. 17 matchup against rival NMU, winning 59-56 thanks to clutch free throws from seniors Kelli Guy and Lindsay Winter. NMU’s game-tying 3 from at the buzzer clanked off the rim to ensure Tech’s 59-56 win. 

Sunday’s rematch will likely be another defensive battle, with Tech’s defense ranking third in the league (61.6) while NMU sits at No. 4 (63.1). 

NMU (9-10, 5-6) plays at one of most deliberate paces in the league, averaging a league-low 52 shots per game as the players work each second of the shot clock in order to find the best shot. 

“Learning from the Wayne State game and from facing Northern last time, we were forced into a lot of jump shots, and we made them,” Cameron said. “We can’t rely on that. I remember thinking during that game, ‘We’re very fortunate right now because we are making tough shots.’ So we have to be better offensively with being able to get to the rim.”

Defensively, Tech will attempt to limit the damage NMU can inflict with its size advantage in the post. In the first matchup, the 6-foot-4 Taylor Hodell paced the Wildcats with 17 points, while Jessica Schultz (6-foot-3) added 12 points. 

“They’re so big, but another part of their success against us was their post play,” Cameron said. “Allowing their post players to be successful puts us in a really tough position, so we have to do our best to slow them down.”