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Huskies women look to continue hot streak against Wildcats

Michigan Tech guard Tessa Leece drives around a defender during the first half of a game against Wisconsin-Parkside Saturday at the SDC Gym in Houghton. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — With wins in five of their last seven games, the Michigan Tech Huskies women’s basketball team is on a tear. Their hot streak, which includes a pair of wins last week over Purdue Northwest and Wisconsin-Parkside, has the Huskies at 12-9 overall and 8-5 in GLIAC play.

The Huskies are now in a tie for fourth in the conference, and face the team directly ahead of them, the Northern Michigan Wildcats, Saturday.

Huskies coach Sam Clayton said that a big reason for the Huskies’ improvement in the win column has been playing smarter offensively.

“We’re making more shots, and that always helps,” she said. “We’re shooting a better percentage, and we’re taking good shots. I think a big piece is to just shot selection as far as understanding the momentum of the game, and who has that momentum.”

With smarter shot selection comes a recognition that sometimes the Huskies need to change their strategy at various points of a game.

“If we’ve missed a few threes in a row, I think we’re doing a better job,” Clayton said. “‘Okay, now let’s get something at the rim. Let’s get a post touch, a paint touch.’ So, I think we’ve grown in that way.”

Along with the ability to shift offensive strategy comes a need for improved movement around the floor, something else Clayton is pleased with.

“I also think, I don’t know, we’re just flowing better,” she said. “Our chemistry, our movement, and I can’t say why. I can’t really put a finger on why it wasn’t slowing early in the season.

“The past two, three weeks, I felt a lot better just about how we’re playing together offensively.”

Along with more flow in the offense has come contributions off the bench from freshman guard Alyssa Wypych and junior forward Emma Anderson.

“Emma and Alyssa have stepped up big time on both sides of the ball,” Clayton said.

Anderson had 11 points off the bench against the Pride and followed that up with 14 against the Rangers.

“Emma’s obviously been shooting it really well, so teams have to come out and guard her,” said Clayton. “Then we can post up our guards. I’ve been playing her and Sara (Dax) together a little bit, which is new, but I really like it because they can both really score at their rim and both really shoot it.”

Wypych started her college career on fire, scoring in double figures in each of her first six games, but has struggled since to find consistency, reaching double digits just twice more. However, she has improved her defensive play, which has helped.

“Alyssa, she’s been shooting it confidently,” said Clayton. “She’s another one. We can post her up. She’s a 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11 guard, and finishes well around the rim and uses her length well defensively.”

With Anderson shooting confidence growing, she has created an opportunity for Clayton to sometimes use both of her post players at the same time, which creates matchup nightmares for defenses.

“They’re both good decision makers,” Clayton said. “They’re both good shooters. They both have that size, 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-1, where, OK. who are you going to put on who? If you put your five on Sara, we’re going to post up Emma. If you put your five on Emma, we’re going to post up Sara, and then the other one can shoot it. So, you can’t just help off the other post. That’s what I really like. I feel like we have an advantage no matter what.”

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

The Wildcats come into this weekend 15-7 overall and 9-4 in GLIAC play after sweeping Parkside and Purdue Northwest last weekend. They sit third in the conference standings.

Their offense flows through senior guard Makaylee Kuhn, who averages 17.4 points per game. She also averages 7.1 rebounds per game.

Sophomore guard Jacy Weisbrod is also consistently strong offensively, averaging 11.9 points per game.

GAME TIME

The Huskies and Wildcats are set for an opening tip Saturday at 1 p.m. at the SDC Gym in Houghton.

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