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Huskies women’s basketball working on ball control as they open GLIAC play

HOUGHTON — After a tough road trip that saw them lose to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears on either side of a win over St. Cloud State, the Michigan Tech Huskies women’s basketball team returns home this week looking to right the ship. They open GLIAC play Thursday as they host the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals, and they follow that up with a game against the Wayne State Warriors on Saturday.

If there is one area of the game that Huskies coach Sam Clayton is most concerned about as her team takes the floor Thursday, it is ball control. The Huskies committed, in her opinion, entirely too many turnovers over the last three games.

They surrendered 16 to the Bulldogs, 18 against St. Cloud, and 15 against the Golden Bears.

“It’s a tough trip going 1-2,” she said. “I think we played good competition. Obviously, Duluth was the national runners-up. (They are) super athletic. Concordia (is) another team (that is) super athletic.

“I think the biggest keys over the weekend we saw is taking care of the ball. We’re averaging 15 assists per game, but almost 16 turnovers per game. So, if we can shore those up a little bit, we’ll put ourselves in a better position each game.”

The Huskies are averaging 15.7 turnovers per game seven games into the season. Last season, they had 12.2 per game, and only 10.9 in GLIAC play.

With nearly the entire squad back this season, Clayton is a little concerned about the mindset of her group. However, she feels confident that most of the issue can be fixed by focusing in practice.

“We do have quite a bit of experience returning, and I know they can take care of the ball,” she said. “Last year, we were at like 12 turnovers per game, so we’re capable.

“I think it’s a mindset. It’s staying aggressive versus pressure. We played good teams last year, too. I mean, we played a lot of these same teams, so we’re capable. I think it’s stepping up. It’s getting it done in practice so that we can get it.”

After playing three games in four nights, the Huskies have been off since. Clayton felt that time off was very valuable after the tough stretch of games.

“I think it was great to get a week here where we got to prep for conference play, got some players some rest as needed, and regrouped mentally,” she said. “So, we’re ready to go.”

One consistent from the first tip of the season has been the play of freshman guard Alyssa Wypych. She opened her first season with 14 points in each of her first three games. She scored a career-high 20 against St. Cloud after posting 19 against the Bulldogs the night before. She finally had a tough night scoring against the Golden Bears, where she had just six points. She is averaging 14.7 points per game, and while she is averaging close to three turnovers per game, her assist-to-turnover ratio was 0.3 through the road trip.

“I think she’s been phenomenal as far as having to play against all these teams that pressure, as a freshman point guard, and also her ability to score the way she’s been scoring the ball,” Clayton said. “Overall, (she’s) making good decisions. Again, we have too many turnovers, but we’re putting her in a tough spot, and she has the mental toughness where those turnovers don’t get to her. When she has a silly one here or there, she’s able to turn right around, want the ball back, and make the next right decision.”

SCOUTING THE CARDINALS

The Cardinals are 3-3 to start the season, but have won their last three games, defeating Pitt.-Johnstown, Cedarville and Hillsdale.

Junior guard Aleshia Jones is the only Cardinals player averaging double figures at 15.2 points per game. She is shooting 22.5% from beyond the arc as well. Sophomore guard Emma Dzizgowski is the deep threat. While she is averaging 6.3 points per game, she is hitting 33.3% from three-point land.

Clayton expects the Cardinals to pressure hard.

“They’re going to pressure,” she said. “They’re probably going to press us the entire game, for sure.”

SCOUTING THE WARRIORS

The Warriors come into the weekend 6-1 on the season with their only loss coming to the No. 1 Ashland Eagles in their season-opener.

Junior forward Shea Tripp is off to a great start, averaging a team-high 13 points per game. Senior guard Becca Fugate is also having a strong year, averaging 11 points per game. She is also deadly from beyond the arc, where she is hitting 42.9% percent.

Sophomore forward Gabi Lutchka is also averaging in double figures at 11.2 points per game. She has done all of that while coming off the bench, which makes her an integral part of what makes the Warriors a successful team.

GAME TIMES

The Huskies and Cardinals will faceoff at 5:30 p.m. at the SDC Gym in Houghton. Thursday. Saturday, the Huskies and Warriors are set for an opening tip at 1 p.m.

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