Huskies ready to face Timberwolves in GLIAC quarters
HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech Huskies women’s basketball coach Sam Hoyt hopes Tuesday night’s quarterfinal game of the GLIAC Tournament against the Northwood Timberwolves will be, at the very least, a repeat of her team’s 60-55 win over the Northern Michigan Wildcats (NMU) last Thursday both on the court and in the stands of the Wood Gym.
It (the NMU game) couldn’t have worked out better,” said Hoyt, who is in her first year as a head coach at Michigan Tech. “To be able to play for a GLIAC North title against our rival team, NMU, on Senior Night and come away with the win was an incredible night. I just hope that will give us a ton of momentum moving into the postseason because moving forward nothing gets easier.”
The Huskies (20-8 overall, 16-4 GLIAC) enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed. They have beaten the No. 3 seed Northwood (13-15 overall, 10-10 GLIAC) twice already this season.
In December, they downed the Timberwolves on the road, 78-68. In February, they beat them at home, 70-40.
Even with those two victories, Hoyt is not taking Tuesday’s contest lightly. She is quite familiar with the sport axiom that it is hard to beat any team three times in one year.
“Northwood is a very capable team and are playing well,” she said. “They play really hard.”
Hoyt should know. She was an assistant coach at Northwood during the 2014-15 season.
“I respect their coach (Jeff Curtis), having worked for him and how he runs his program,” she said. “We know each other so well. We know each other’s players and each other’s player tendencies. They have shooters that can be impossible to guard depending on the night.”
The Timberwolves are led by Ellie Taylor who averages 13 points per game and is followed by Grace German who scores 11 points per game on average.
As a team, the Timberwolves average 63.3 points per game.
Hoyt added that she is very pleased with her team’s chemistry, and it has proved to be a winning combination.
“Our team has grown really close,” she said. “Part of what comes with team chemistry is unselfishness. Every single one of our players is willing to make the extra pass. They don’t care who scores as long as we score and that is really important.”
With that unselfish style of play, the Huskies have routinely had four or five players scoring in double figures on any given night.
“That make us harder to guard and gives each of our players a sense of confidence in themselves and helps their teammates,” she said.
The Huskies enter Tuesday’s game shooting 43.6 percent from the field which is the third-best in GLIAC. Junior Abbie Botz leads the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds. Senior Elizabeth Kelliher follows her with 10.1 points per game and 5.2 rebounds.
Hoyt noted that, as a senior, Kelliher has proved herself as more than just a scorer.
“She has really stepped up which is huge moving into postseason,” she said. “It (the postseason) is all about leaderships and how our seniors are playing, That is really exciting for us.”
Execution, energy and playing focused are what Hoyt sees as the keys to an Tech win.
“These are things that we have done all year long to get us to this point,” she said. “We are going to have to slow them down in transition and take away those rhythm three pointers from their guards. It will come down to us out working our opponent.”
With a win, the Huskies will advance to the GLIAC semifinals for a chance to play in the finals, both of which will be hosted by the highest remaining seed on Saturday and Sunday.
Tuesday’s tip-off will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Wood Gym.