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Huskies women’s offense sputters in second half in loss to Wildcats

Michigan Tech forward Maja Kozlowska drives around a Northern Michigan defender during a game Saturday at the SDC Gym in Houghton. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — Just 14 seconds into the second half Saturday afternoon at the SDC Gym, the Michigan Tech Huskies women’s basketball team held a slim lead, 32-31, after an Emma Anderson layup. That was as good as things got for the Huskies the remainder of the game as the Northern Michigan Wildcats came away with a 70-45 victory.

With the loss, the Huskies fell to 12-10 on the season and 8-6 in GLIAC play.

Five minutes later, freshman guard Alyssa Wypych hit a 3-pointer, pulling the Huskies back within three points, 40-37. However, that was only the second basket the Huskies had made after Anderson’s layup. Junior guard Isabella Lenz hit the only Huskies’ basket over the next 10 minutes as the Wildcats went on a 16-2 run before senior guard Katelyn Meister picked up a layup.

Huskies coach Sam Clayton felt that her team struggled to adjust once shots stopped falling in the second half. This was not the first time this has happened, she pointed out after the game.

“It happened to us earlier in the year,” she said. “I mean, we miss a couple shots, and then we quit running our offense. We quit screening. We quit making reads, and then it just spirals into even when we get good looks, we’re missing those. So, yeah, we have to be able to flip those runs sooner, which we had been doing a good job of (before Saturday).”

Anderson, a junior forward, earned the opportunity to start because of an injury that kept fifth-year forward Sara Dax out of the lineup for the contest. She finished with six points in 19 minutes of playing time.

“I mean, obviously it affects us not having Sara,” Clayton said. “She is a go-to player when we need a bucket, something in the paint. She finishes really well. She can shoot it.”

One positive for the Huskies was the play of sophomore forward Maja Kozlowska, who stepped in off the bench, played 17 minutes and scored 10 points.

“It was great to see her just post up hard,” said Clayton. “I mean, she’s strong. She’s athletic. She can finish well. So, it was good to see her be able to get a couple and ones, make some free throws. That’ll only help us moving forward, because I think she can help us on both sides of the ball.”

In the first half of the game, the Huskies stayed within two points of the Wildcats through the first quarter and managed to shave that advantage down to one in the second, thanks, at least in part, to Meister, who led the Huskies with 14 points on the afternoon.

The only problem with that was that she had 12 of those 14 in the first half.

“She got some looks at the rim again,” Clayton said. “I think she had 12 at half, and then it was 14. Obviously, they tried to take her away. They kind of doubled a little bit, and then we have to get cutters. We have to get inside out, hit some threes, but the movement, just the flow, wasn’t quite there.”

On the other end of the floor, guard Makaylee Kuhn was strong for the Wildcats, scoring well from outside, but also going 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. As she created time and space in the second half, and the Huskies were not scoring, she opened up the paint, where center Ana Rhude dominated on her way to a 16-point afternoon.

“She’s super tough to guard,” said Clayton. “We didn’t execute what we wanted to do, either, so many things defensively. When you’re not scoring, that can’t be the case. You still have to execute defensively. She had way too many touches at the rim, and if you let her go off, she’s going to hurt you. She makes great decisions. She finishes really well and makes great decisions. We kind of let her have her way.

“We let Rhude have her way. She got in there. We were letting her go 1-on-1, and she made us pay. She got right at the rim whenever she wanted.”

UP NEXT

The Huskies hit the road this weekend for their final road trip of the regular season. They will face Wayne State on Thursday night and then Saginaw Valley State on Saturday.

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