Huskies use strong second half to top Warriors, 80-70
HOUGHTON — For 20 minutes Thursday, the Wayne State Warriors women’s basketball team looked the team higher in the GLIAC standings. They led by nine points, had out-rebounded the Michigan Tech Huskies, and controlled the paint.
The Huskies corrected all of that in the second half, scoring 51 points over the game’s final 20 minutes to earn an 80-70 victory at the SDC Gym.
Huskies coach Sam Clayton could not really come up with reasons for her team’s slow start. However, as she addressed the team during halftime, she felt it was not a matter of X’s and O’s, but rather an issue with her team’s mindset.
“It was a mindset thing, and it’s been like this a couple of games,” Clayton said. “We started like this, and we have got to get out of it. We have to get out of the funk. We gave up six offensive rebounds. They were out-rebounding us by eight at half and then we outrebounded them to end the game. We had eight turnovers in the first half. (We) ended up settling for a quite a few threes. When they’re not falling, we have to get some stuff at the rim.
“But, in the second half again, we turned it around. They only had three offensive rebounds. We ended up out-rebounding them, and we took care of the ball. We got high percentage shots. We got some looks at the rim. So I think, at the end of the day, I have to get the team ready from the tip.”
Junior guard Katelyn Meister agreed with her coach’s assessment during the break, which saw the Huskies trailing 38-29 after two quarters.
“First half, I feel like things weren’t really flowing like we wanted them to,” she said. ‘We had a long talk in the locker room about just getting back to how we play, getting stops defensively, being strong with the ball offensively, and making good decisions.”
Meister had a huge second half for the Huskies, scoring 11 of her 13 points in the half, alongside strong efforts from junior forward Sara Dax and sophomore guard Isabella Lenz.
She attributed her success in the second half to the fact that the whole team responded well to Clayton’s pep talk.
“We talked about flying around defensively, and just talking more offensively,” Meister said. “Just staying aggressive is a big thing, and confident, and that energy is always contagious.”
Ten minutes into the contest, the Huskies and Warriors were tied 17-17 despite the fact that the Huskies (18-4 overall, 10-2 GLIAC) went 3-for-9 from beyond the three-point arc. The Warriors did not hit a three of their own, but instead did their damage in the paint, outscoring the Huskies, 18-6.
In the second quarter, the Warriors found themselves with time and space outside the arc, and they took advantage of the situation, hitting 5-of-5 from out there.
The Huskies tried to respond, but they only hit a pair in seven tries. Lenz got the first one from the right side just 1:06 in. Dax hit the other one over five minutes later.
The Huskies held the Warriors to just two points in the paint in the quarter, but weren’t able to get much going at the other end of the floor.
After the teams returned to the floor to start the third, Dax got the Huskies on the board first 1:05 in when she drew a shooting foul and also made a jump shot. She missed finishing the three-point play, but 34 seconds later, Lenz downed a three-pointer. Just 31 seconds later, Dax intercepted a pass under the Huskies’ basket and helped turn that into a short jumper at the other end for Meister and suddenly the Huskies trailed by just two, 38-36.
With the Warriors struggling to keep up with the Huskies’ improved pace, the game was evened at 38 by sophomore forward Lydia Schaible.
Despite scoring 23 points in the third quarter, the Huskies still trailed, 55-52, heading into the final 10 minutes.
The Huskies played the entire third without the services of senior guard Alex Rondorf, who scored her only bucket in the first half. Clayton said after the contest that Rondorf, who was back on the floor in the game’s final four minutes, is “playing through some stuff.”
In her place, Meister scored six of her 13 points in the third quarter and added another five in the fourth. For Meister, having her teammates catch fire at the same time she did helped her find her shooting confidence.
“I feel like energy is just contagious,” she said, “once you see somebody else put the ball through the hoop.
“I know a lot of my other teammates had really good games. Sara had a really good game. I mean Bella always plays really well. Everyone was putting the ball through the hoop, and I feel like just seeing that gives me confidence.”
In the fourth, Lenz scored nine of her 19 points by taking advantage of scoring points off the rush, getting a pair of early layups to fall in transition and then later hitting a three-pointer that energized the whole team with 3:19 left in the contest.
Dax added another five points over that stretch to finish with a game-high 22. She also led the Huskies with five assists, had two steals, and five rebounds.
“Sara and Bella both mean a ton, and that’s on and off the floor,” said Clayton. “They’re both great leaders as well.
“In-game, you can really look to them when you need a big shot.”
By the time the dust settled, the Huskies scored 51 points in the second half and finished with a 33-32 advantage in rebounds in the game. They also finished with a 34-32 advantage in points in the paint for the contest.
The Huskies return to action Saturday, when they host Saginaw Valley State. Opening tip is set for 1 p.m.
WSU 17 21 17 15 – 70
MTU 17 12 23 28 – 80
WSU – Griffin 2, Tripp 15, Moore 20, Fugate 19, McArthur 2, Shagena 3, Thompson 2, Karasinski 6.
MTU – Zenner 6, Dax 22, Mackay 15, Rondorf 2, Lenz 19, Meister 13, Anderson 3.