Huskie’s Isabella Lenz hits game winner to beat the #4 Lakers

Saturday was the second time this season the Huskies pushed past a Top-25 ranked opponent
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 10:48 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Isabella Lenz became a Houghton hero Saturday after she hit the game-winning jumper as time expired, helping Michigan Tech top No. 4 ranked Grand Valley State 57-56 at SDC Gymnasium in come-from-behind fashion.

The Huskies (16-3, 8-1 GLIAC) moved up to first place in the conference standings with their sixth straight victory. Tech also remained perfect at home (8-0) and avenged a GLIAC Semifinal loss to GVSU last season as the Lakers fell to 17-2, 8-1 GLIAC.

“The play was actually a screen but that’s not how it worked out,” Lenz recalled. “When it came to me, I knew how much time was left so I just wanted to make sure I got a shot in the air. Luckily, it went it.”

Lenz also made a critical step back at the right elbow seven seconds earlier, but Nicole Kamin went to the free throw line with 2.8 seconds remaining and downed one of two. The Huskies used a timeout to advance the basketball. Lenz then received the inbound pass from Alex Rondorf on the sideline, turned, and extended a right-handed shot over the outstretched arm of Kamin at the buzzer.

“Bella’s shot was impressive,” said head coach Sam Clayton. “I was so proud of her because I know how hard she works on shots just like that one on a day-to-day basis. I trust her in late shot clock situations because she just makes smart decisions.”

Saturday was the second time this season the Huskies pushed past a Top-25 ranked opponent and the team has not lost at SDC Gymnasium since January 27, 2022 (Northwood), a streak of 10 straight going back to last winter.

Lenz led the offense with 15 points and shot 6-for-14 from the field with a team-high four assists. Rondorf also notched double figures with 10 and Katelyn Meister came off the bench for eight.

Emily Spitzley made three layups to start the game for the Lakers, but Mackay and Lenz answered with fadeaway jumpers for MTU. The Huskies took their first lead 10-9 after Emma Anderson connected for three from the left wing.

Grand Valley State took advantage of MTU turnovers in the opening minutes of the second quarter to pull in front 23-12 and Rylie Bisballe added to the Lakers 18 first half points in the paint. GVSU led 31-21 at the break.

The Huskies shot 36-percent through 20 minutes and trailed 17-16 in rebounds.

“We lost a bit of confidence and started to rush ourselves on offense which led to more turnovers,” Clayton said. “Most times at the half, I ask the girls what adjustments they think we need to make too. We were all on the same page about taking care of the ball but making sure we stayed aggressive because we really felt we could earn good looks against that team. I was really happy with how we responded with poise and composure in the second half.”

Michigan Tech began the third quarter on an 11-0 run, capped by Sloane Zenner’s arcing 3-pointer for a 33-31 edge.

Grand Valley State regrouped with layups and subsequent free throws but Meister downed a step-back corner three at the buzzer. MTU trailed 46-38 heading into the final 10 minutes.

Meister scored to start the fourth and Mackay received a charge. Mackay then put one off the glass to close back to four with 8:18 to play. Hannah Kulas helped GVSU widen the gap back to seven but Lenz’s smooth assist to Meister put the Huskies back within a single possession by the final media timeout (4:29).

Lenz’s three gave the Huskies a one-point lead but Ellie Droste answered with a layup at the 1:27 mark.

Sara Dax drove toward the rim but missed a pull-up jumper and the Huskies fouled Spitzley with 13.3 seconds left. Michigan Tech called timeout after Spitzley made one of two free throws for the Lakers.

With the Huskies back on offense, Lenz stepped back at the right elbow to swish the shot with 7.4 on the clock.

Kamin went to the free throw line with 2.8 seconds and made one of two for Grand Valley State. After advancing the ball and 1.8 seconds to execute the play, Lenz took the inbound from Rondorf, turned, and shot it from the left elbow for the 57-56 win.