Huskies tally 13th straight victory over Wildcats on Senior Day

Michigan Tech earned the second seed in the GLIAC Tournament already and will host Wayne State
Published: Feb. 25, 2023 at 9:25 PM EST
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - Five players made it to double figures and the Huskies collected their 13th straight victory over Northern Michigan on Senior Day Saturday at SDC Gymnasium to close out the regular season schedule 13-0 at home. Sophomore Isabella Lenz paced the offense with 19 points and the Huskies shot a season-high 59.6 percent from the floor.

“This team is super special,” commented Ellie Mackay. “To still be undefeated at home at this point in the season speaks volumes not just about how hard we work but also the community and fan support we get. We are all very grateful for it. There’s just no other place to play like the wood gym.”

The Huskies (23-5, 15-3 GLIAC) totaled 20 assists for the third time this winter and scored 34 points in the paint. Michigan Tech earned the No. 2 seed and will be home for the GLIAC quarterfinals Wednesday. The Huskies host No. 7 seed Wayne State (14-12, 7-11) at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

Both teams began 5-for-7 from the field. Sara Dax and Katelyn Meister downed threes for a 12-10 MTU advantage prior to the first media timeout. Alex Rondorf pulled down an offensive rebound and went back up for a layup in the final minute of the first quarter. Lenz hit a three from the right wing as the Huskies led 23-14 through ten minutes shooting 71.4 percent.

Sara Dax and Rondorf notched back-to-back threes to extend the margin to 14 by the mid-point of the second. Dax collected a no-look assist in the lane when she found Rondorf underneath with 1:47 to play.

The Huskies mixed inside and outside shooting and connected 6 of 9 long-range jumpers and 18 of 26 shots overall (69.2 percent) for a 43-29 edge at the break. Rondorf led the way with 12 points and put away 5-for-5 from the field.

After halftime, Lenz answered an early three by the Wildcats. However, both teams’ offenses briefly cooled in the third quarter. Off the bench, Lydia Schaible’s reverse kept Tech in front by double-figures.

Lenz and Abi Fraaza exchanged 3-pointers at the end of the quarter, with Tech still on top 59-46. Lenz scored 10 points over the ten-minute span.

“It was about just sticking to our game plan after halftime,” Rondorf said. “Playing good defense was important. They’re a good team and we didn’t let them get back in it.”

“We knew in the second half they were going to come out firing,” Sloane Zenner added. “They did make some tough shots but I thought our defensive effort led to more offense as well.

The Wildcats outscored the Huskies 22-21 in the fourth quarter, but Head Coach Sam Clayton was able to remove seniors Rondorf, Mackay, and Zenner in the final minute to a warm round of applause from the 1,001 fans in attendance.

Lenz shot 7-for-11 overall and went 3-for-5 from the 3-point arc. Rondorf was perfect on the day with 6-6 overall shooting, a pair of triples, and a pair of free throws for 16 points. Katelyn Meister was also efficient with five makes on eight tries for 13 points. Dax and Mackay also crossed the 10-point threshold with 12 and 11 respectively.

“I think this win means the world to our players, the coaching staff, and obviously our seniors,” Clayton said. “This could be the last time we play Northern Michigan this year and I think it gives us some momentum moving into the postseason. To have five players in double figures is very positive. We really let our offense work. We didn’t always score early in the shot clock. There were times we scored in transition. Sometimes it took a while, but we were able to score in a variety of ways.”

The Huskies out rebounded the Wildcats 33-26. Northern Michigan limited turnovers to six, compared to 12 against Tech. Makaylee Kuhn led NMU with 23 points and shot 11-for-18. Lenz added a game-high six assists for the Huskies.

The Wildcats (15-12, 10-8) earned the No. 4 seed in the GLIAC Tournament and will host Saginaw Valley State on Wednesday. If Michigan Tech defeats Wayne State on Wednesday March 1st, they will face the winner of No. 3 seed Wisconsin Parkside and No. 6 seed Ferris State in the semifinals. Grand Valley State won the GLIAC Regular Season Title with just one conference loss.

“The fans were unreal and the atmosphere every time we hit a shot pr made a stop gave us such energy and momentum,” Clayton said. “So to know we get to play one more home game here on Wednesday is a huge advantage for us. Wayne State is playing really well so it’s going to be a tough game. We had a slow start against them last time so I hope our players come out with a vengeance and a desire to win.”