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Huskies women still searching for home playoff spot

David Archambeau/For the Gazette Michigan Tech guard Isabella Lenz looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to during a game against Northern Michigan Saturday at the SDC Gym in Houghton.

DETROIT — At 12-10 overall and 8-6 in GLIAC play, the Michigan Tech Huskies women’s basketball team has clinched a GLIAC Tournament spot. However, where they will play is still up for grabs. They currently sit fifth in the conference, and get a chance Thursday to improve their position by facing the Wayne State Warriors, who sit just above them in the standings.

In order to do that, they will have to perform better than they did in the second half Saturday against Northern Michigan, who handed the Huskies their second loss in their last seven games.

“Obviously super frustrating, I think, for me as a coach, and for our players as well,” said coach Sam Clayton. “Just when one mistake or missed shot turns into two, turns into three, and not being able to turn that around. It started in the third quarter. We missed some layups, missed some open shots, and then we really can not let that affect the next play, the next quarter, especially defensively.”

Clayton pointed out that the defensive urgency disappeared for the Huskies Saturday.

“I thought our defensive execution and urgency definitely failed in that fourth (quarter), when we weren’t scoring, which really can’t happen. Just overall urgency, I feel like, in that second half, was lacking. Missing traps is one thing, but then just not executing, whether that be running our offense, trusting it a little bit, moving the ball a little bit more. So, definitely things we’ll have to shore up.”

While the Huskies’ defensive urgency had been better of late, which helped attribute to the Michigan Tech’s success, having a game like Saturday was a step backward, according to Clayton.

“We’ve seen it in multiple games, unfortunately,” she said. “I keep thinking we’re going to learn from it, and be able to respond, hopefully this is the game. I mean, struggling like that at home against your rival, hopefully we can learn from it and respond.

“Going into the last couple of weeks of the regular season here, we have to. We have to get to a point where that doesn’t happen anymore, where we have everyone on the same page as far as playing one possession at a time, not worrying about the last possession being our best in each moment, having that urgency in each possession.”

On a positive note, the Huskies have begun to see their bench deepen with each game, whether it has been junior forward Emma Anderson, freshman guard Alyssa Wypych, or freshman guard Dani Nuest.

On Saturday, sophomore forward Maja Kozlowska scored 10 points in 17 minutes of play. However, what impressed Clayton the most was the effort Kozlowska put up defensively, while her teammates struggled to match her effort.

“Our players off the bench, I feel like, have been really sharp coming in there,” Clayton said. “I think Dani’s done some great things for us. Alyssa making shots, defending hard, Emma being able to finish at the rim, and really shoot it for us. Then Maja, specifically, this past weekend, I thought she did a phenomenal job. Yeah, she scored 10 points, double digits, which is, I think, her career high, but I thought she was just phenomenal defensively.

“She can affect the game so much on that side of the ball, because she’s so long and athletic. She can help us protect the paint, and she did a great job of that. So, it’s definitely exciting to see different players step up. I’ve said this many times, but in the postseason you need a deep bench. You need to be able to play everybody and not have that drop off when you are subbing. I feel like we’re building that.”

SCOUTING

THE WARRIORS

The Wayne State Warriors come into this weekend 16-8 overall and 9-6 in GLIAC play. They are coming off a weekend where they beat Lake Superior State and lost to No. 4 Ferris State.

They are led offensively by junior forward Shea Tripp, who is averaging 12.8 points per game. Sophomore forward Gabi Lutchka has also been strong, averaging 11.6 points per game. She has been even better in conference play, where she is averaging 12.9 points per game.

SCOUTING

THE CARDINALS

The Saginaw Valley State Cardinals come into this weekend 9-16 overall and 6-9 in GLIAC play after sweeping No. 4 Ferris State and Lake Superior State last weekend.

Junior guard Aleshia Jones is the only Cardinals player averaging in double digits at 13.3 points per game. Senior forward Victoria Stafford has also been good, averaging 9.6 points per game.

GAME TIMES

The Huskies and Warriors will battle at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit. Saturday, the Huskies and Cardinals are set to start at 1 p.m. at the James O’Neill Arena in University Center.

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