No. 17 Tech women prepare for GLIAC North showdown with No. 24 GVSU

Michigan Tech's Brenna Heise shoots against Northern Michigan Sunday at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — It’s No. 17 Michigan Tech (16-3, 10-2) and No. 24 Grand Valley State (17-3, 10-2) playing in a late-season matchup with major conference implications on the line. 

Just like how it’s always been, lately. 

If tonight’s showdown at the Wood Gym is anything like the recent matchups, expect a down-to-the-wire finish. The last five matchups have been decided by an average of four points, including two that came down to two points and another where a single point was the difference. 

The winner tonight will claim sole possession of the GLIAC North lead. 

“They’re a great program with a lot of great players,” Tech coach Kim Cameron said. “It doesn’t matter if they graduate seven seniors or start five freshmen, they’re extremely disciplined, and we have to battle that.

“It’s always been a really good game and always been challenging. Things aren’t always going to go your way, and there’s going to be ups and downs, but that’s also really exciting. This will be a high-level game with a lot of things at stake.”

The two defensive-minded programs have continued to excel on that end of the floor. GVSU leads the GLIAC in points allowed per game (55.8) while Tech ranks third (60.8). But uncannily, the Dec. 7 matchup was a high-scoring affair compared to the previous contests, with Tech winning 85-81 in overtime. In the four games prior to this season’s win, the teams combined for an average of 112 points.

Tech shot 54 percent in the win (32-59) in what was the most points allowed by GVSU in a game all season. Senior Brenna Heise paced Tech with 22 points and senior Kelli Guy added 17.

“We both went into that game thinking both sides would be at 50 points,” Cameron said. “It was still like every possession was important. The weird thing about that game was it was really streaky. We had different plays be effective at different times of the game … I remember Kelli Guy really kept us going, and then (GVSU) didn’t let her touch the ball. Then our post players at the end of the game were successful. Brenna had a stretch where she was really good.

“It was just different people stepping up at different times, and it was exactly what we needed that night. They made adjustments and we had to adjust as well.”

For Tech, it’ll be the second matchup in a row that should test its mental fortitude. The Huskies faced a bigger and longer Northern Michigan team that consistently pounded the paint on offense and made scoring difficult for Tech with its length. Still, Tech prevailed 61-54 on Sunday. 

“That win and this experience, I’m hoping that all of this leads to us being really tough down the stretch,” Cameron said. “And us continuing to take steps so we can be the very best and start to put it all together during this last month.

“Toughness and guts is exactly what we’ll need to beat a team like Grand Valley and to get that done on Sunday with as much as Northern gave us, I’m really proud of us for gutting it out.”

Tech closes the weekend by hosting Purdue Northwest on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Huskies earned an 86-40 blowout-win on Dec. 9.