No. 20 Tech hosts Ferris State in GLIAC quarterfinal

Michigan Tech’s Elisa Jurmu shoots a layup against Davenport on Feb. 24 at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/ Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — The first half of No. 20 Michigan Tech’s 80-63 win over Ferris State on Feb. 15 was peak Michigan Tech. The Huskies beat every Ferris State defensive rotation with precise ball movement and were on fire from 3, making 7 of 13 attempts. It all added up to 54 points — the most Tech scored in a half this season.

But Ferris State managed to stifle Tech’s hot start with full-court pressure. The press threw the Huskies’ offense out of sync, and they shot 7 of 19 and had 11 turnovers while scoring just 26 points.

Tech expects to see the same defensive strategy employed by Ferris State during tonight’s 5:30 p.m. GLIAC quarterfinal matchup at the Wood Gym.

“We didn’t play a complete 40 minutes,” Tech coach Kim Cameron said of the last matchup. “Their press and their pressure bothered us in the second half. That’s something that we know we’re going to have to be aware of heading into this game.

“I think moving the ball and being confident against pressure is something that we’ve struggled with the whole year. Hopefully, we’ll understand what we need to do in tournament time and be confident with the ball and the movement with the ball.”

Ferris State is the GLIAC’s top rebounding team (41 per game) and enters with the second highest scoring offense in the league (76.3 points per game), while Tech is third at 72.4 points per game. Senior Rachel McInerney is the Bulldogs leading scorer, averaging 16.7 points (fourth in the GLIAC) and has had success against Tech this season. In Ferris State’s 80-77 loss to Tech on Jan. 11, McInerney finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds. The 6-foot-1 forward also scored 30 points in the latest matchup against the Huskies and added 10 rebounds.

“She shoots from 15 feet out, she shoots 3s. She plays so hard, she gives herself a chance to be great all the time,” Cameron said. “If she misses a shot, she gets her own rebound and puts it back in.

“The thing with her is not letting her outwork you. Some way, somehow, she’s going to get points. You just have to try to limit her touches and get her to shoot from the perimeter.”

As for Tech, the team has continued to be led by its veteran core. Seniors Brenna Heise (12.3 points per game), Kelli Guy (11.3) and Hannah Stoll (10) are the active leading scorers for the Huskies, while junior Elizabeth Kelliher is at 9.4 points per contest.

Experience carried Tech to its GLIAC North title, and Cameron is hoping it can assist in making a deep GLIAC tourney run and perhaps eventually result in an NCAA bid.

“With a group that is so special, has set goals and reached them and is close to reaching them, you kind of want to enjoy every moment and allow them to have every opportunity to go as far as they can,” Cameron said. “You know they’ve been working for this for the four to five years they’ve been here. They want it, and they’ve embedded that into our team.

“So going in and having one last fighting chance with this group is pretty cool.”

Cameron is still hopeful that senior Lindsey Winter (11.3) can make a return to the postseason after missing the last five games with an injury. Junior forward Michelle LaFave (7.8 points per game) is expected to return to the rotation after not playing in Saturday’s win over Davenport.

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