HOUGHTON, Mi. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team fell to Ashland University 85-68 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at the SDC Gym. The Huskies kept things close early and the defense kept the Eagles' offense off track at times, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get past the No. 4 team in the nation.
"I was really proud of how our players continued to compete today regardless of the score," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "Overall, I thought we did a good job of giving our best effort and executing the game plan on each possession. We did seem a little timid against their zone defense, which kind of hurt us by slowing down our offense and movement. I thought our defense did a good job creating turnovers and executing once we were in the half court.
"It's not going to get a whole lot easier as we head back out on the road next week. Parkside is a really good team and that game will come down to us being able to execute defensively and lock down on that end of the floor. Purdue Northwest is also a solid team and we'll have to be ready to go from the start for that one as well on Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing how we bounce back on Thursday."
Ashland (13-0, 5-0 GLIAC) struck first in Saturday's game when Sara Loomis cashed in a layup at the 9:22 mark of the first quarter. Michigan Tech (5-7, 3-2 GLIAC) quickly countered with a layup from senior Abbie Botz off an assist by senior Hannah Hobson to knot the score at 2-2. The Huskies then forced a turnover thanks to a steal by sophomore Ellie Mackay which setup a pair of free throws for junior Cassidy Trotter, making it a 4-2 score in favor of Tech with 8:42 on the clock.
The Eagles answered on the ensuing possession when Jodi Johnson connected on a layup followed by a free throw for a conventional three-point play. Renee Stimpert then found the target on a mid-range jumper, giving Ashland a 7-4 lead with just under eight minutes left in the period. The Eagles maintained the lead throughout the rest of the game, but the Huskies were able to remain within striking distance.
Tech closed the gap back to one point at 17-16 on a triple by senior Ellie Welsh with 1:29 to play in the first. However, the Eagles put together a quick 6-0 run to close out the first and held a 23-16 advantage going into the second quarter. The gap increased to 26-16 on a layup by Hallie Heidemann with 8:21 to go in the half, before a layup from senior Michelle LaFave stopped the burst by the Eagles.
Ashland continued to create more separation during the next few minutes of the quarter, culminating on a Loomis jumper to make it 40-21 with 2:33 left in the half. It was the largest lead of the afternoon for the Eagles, but the Huskies kept battling and picked up some momentum right before the buzzer. Tech engineered an 8-0 scoring run to finish off the half, with six of the points being delivered by Trotter and two courtesy of Hobson. Trotter posted the final points of the period at the buzzer, resulting in a 40-29 deficit for Tech at the intermission.
The Huskies notched the first bucket of the second half on a mid-range jumper from Hobson, extending the scoring run to 10-0 while drawing Tech to within single digits at 40-31. Unfortunately, on the Eagles next possession, Stimpert filled up a three-point shot and from there Ashland maintained a double digit lead the rest of the way.
Trotter powered the Huskies with a career high 25 points while adding a team best seven rebounds and six assists. In addition, on defense, Trotter came up with three steals and blocked two shots on the afternoon. Welsh collected 15 points for the second straight contest while Hobson chipped in nine points and four rebounds. Botz added eight points and six rebounds against the Eagles.
As a team, the Huskies fired in 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9%), found the target on 6 of 21 attempts from long distance (28.6%) and converted 12 of 14 chances at the free throw line (85.7%). Tech's defense forced 19 turnovers which led to 11 points on the offensive end of the floor. The Huskies also tossed in 32 points in the paint.
Stimpert paced the Eagles with 20 points, Johnson had 19 points, and Loomis delivered 15 points and eight rebounds. Sarah Hart rounded out the double-digit scorers for Ashland with 14 points and a game high 10 rebounds. The Eagles were successful on 31 of 67 shots from the field (46.3%), went 8 of 22 from three-point land (36.4%), and 15 for 20 at the free throw line (75.0%). The Eagles out-rebounded Tech 44-29 and had 21 second chance points.
The Huskies will be back on the court Thursday when they travel to Parkside for a GLIAC showdown starting at 6:30 p.m. eastern time.