MTU Basketball swept at Ashland

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ASHLAND, Oh. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team opened the 2019 calendar year with a tough 80-58 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss at No. 8 Ashland University Thursday night. The Huskies stayed with the Eagles for the first half, but Ashland turned the tide in their favor in the third quarter.

"I was really happy with the defensive execution in the first half tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "We were able to slow them down in transition, but unfortunately in the second half we weren't as effective. It was good to see us stay with a great team like Ashland in the first half and it shows us the potential that we have. We just have to be able to continue to stay focused, execute, and put two halves together.

"We have an opportunity to bounce back on Saturday at Wayne State and It's going to be important that we execute our transition defense effectively and play a solid 40 minutes. We need to slow them down, prevent easy looks, be able to handle their pressure, and limit our turnovers to give ourselves the best chance to win."

Michigan Tech (7-6, 3-2 GLIAC) put the Eagles on their heels with four quick points out of the gates Thursday night. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter recorded the first two points of the evening on a layup and then after an Ashland (12-1, 4-1 GLIAC) turnover, fed the ball inside to senior Elizabeth Kelliher for two points in the paint.

The Huskies continued to lead 6-3 thanks to a layup by junior Abbie Botz at the 7:05 mark, but the Eagles would record the next seven points to go in front for the first time in the contest. Brooke Smith connected on a triple and then Hallie Heidemann dropped in a pair of attempts at the free throw line with 4:24 on the clock to make it a 10-6 score.

Trotter countered with back-to-back layups to deadlock the score at 10-10, but Ashland's Maddie Dackin dialed in a three-point basket for a 13-10 Eagles lead with 2:35 to go in the first. Trotter and Kelliher then teamed up in the final minutes to pull the Huskies into a 14-14 tie going into the second period.

The Eagles reeled off five quick points to start the second, but freshman Ellie Mackay powered the Huskies back into the lead with consecutive triples, making it a 20-19 score. With 3:10 to play until intermission, freshman Sloane Zenner created a 25-21 Tech advantage on a three-point basket of her own. Unfortunately, the Eagles would go on an 8-2 run to finished out the second quarter and carry a 29-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Ashland's offense continued to pick up steam at the beginning of the third quarter with six of the first eight points. Jodi Johnson made it a 35-29 score with 8:14 on the clock, but then Trotter brought Tech back to within four points at 35-31 with a jumper on the ensuing possession. The Eagles then collected five straight points to increase the gap to 40-31 with just under six minutes to play in the third.

The Huskies stayed within striking distance and trailed 50-43 after a free throw by junior Hannah Hobson at the 2:17 mark of the third period. Unfortunately, Ashland put the game out of reach with a 15-0 scoring run that covered the final two minutes of the third and the opening two minutes of the four quarter. Sara Loomis capped the burst with a conventional three-point play to make it a 65-43 contest and the Eagles continued to pull away from there for the 80-58 win.

Mackay and Hobson guided the Huskies' offense with 13 points apiece Thursday night. Each player knocked down 50 percent of their shots from the field and combined for seven successful three-point tries. Trotter chipped in 10 points and nine assists to round out the double digit scorers for Tech while Botz added nine points and a team best four rebounds.

The Huskies made 24 of 56 shots from the field (42.9%), were on target with 8 of 24 attempts from behind the arc (33.3%), and 2 of 5 at the charity stripe (40.0%). Tech's defense forced 26 Ashland turnovers which led to 20 points on the offensive end of the floor.

The Eagles were led by Loomis with a game high 23 points and nine rebounds followed by Johnson with 18 points. Dackin tacked on 14 points and Karlee Pireu tossed in 10 points Thursday night. Renee Stimpert had seven points, delivered six assists, and had four steals. The Eagles made 32 of 51 shots from the field (62.7%), were 6 for 12 from long distance (50.0%), and 10 for 13 at the free throw line (76.9%). Ashland had the advantage in rebounding 35-19.

The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they travel to Wayne State University for another GLIAC contest. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.

The Michigan Tech men's basketball team suffered a 67-44 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference setback at No. 10 Ashland University Thursday night. The Huskies kept things close for the majority of the first half, but the Eagles' offense caught fire in the final eight minutes of the opening period while the defense shutdown Tech's attack to create a deficit the Huskies were unable to overcome.

"We had a really tough time slowing down their inside game tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Ashland continued to pound the ball inside all night long and collectively we need to do a better job of shutting that down defensively. Credit to Ashland, because they are a great club and did a good job of speeding us up and getting us out of rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

"Our guys never quit and competed to the end tonight and it's important that we learn from this game and keep moving forward. We'll look to bounce back and get ready to face another very physical and athletic Wayne State team on Saturday. We have to be prepared to play our game and do things the Tech way in order to have a successful outcome."

Michigan Tech (7-5, 2-3 GLIAC) faced a 7-0 gap nearly four minutes into Thursday night's game. Rodrick Caldwell gave Ashland (12-0, 5-0 GLIAC) points six and seven at the free throw line with 16:34 showing on the first half clock. The Huskies broke through for their first points at the free throw line when sophomore Trent Bell converted a pair of opportunities to make it a 7-2 score.

Sophomore Dawson Bilski then cut to the basket for a layup to draw Tech to within three points at 7-4. Derek Koch boosted the Eagles advantage out to 9-4 a few seconds later, but Bilski struck again for the Huskies, dialing in a triple with just over 15 minutes to play until the break. Freshman Owen White followed suite with a trey of his own and suddenly the Huskies found themselves with a 10-9 edge at the 14:24 mark of the opening period.

The Eagles slipped back in front momentarily 11-10 on a layup courtesy of Phil Frentsos, but then Bilski connected on a mid-range jumper to give Tech the advantage again at 12-11. Unfortunately, the lead was short lived due to a 4-0 scoring run by Ashland, resulting in a 15-12 edge for the Eagles with 12:41 remaining on the clock. Freshman Kyle Clow brought the Huskies to within one again at 15-14 on a mid-range jumper, but an 8-0 scoring burst by Ashland culminated on a Ben Haraway triple and a 23-14 score with 10:37 remaining in the half.

Freshman TeeAaron Powell and Bilski then combined for five Tech points to chop the gap back down to four points at 23-19 with just over eight minutes to go in the first. However, those would be the final points for the Huskies in the opening 20 minutes of Thursday's game. Ashland recorded the last 18 points of the half to open up a 41-19 advantage when the buzzer sounded signaling the close of the first period.

The Eagles prevented Tech from gaining any momentum at the start of the second period by pouring in the first five points to go up 46-19. Freshman Jake Witt notched a free throw for the Huskies at the 17:38 mark and then senior Bryan Heath and Bilski collected five points to make it a 46-25 score with 16:15 to play. Bilski then sank a three-pointer with 14:07 left in the second, drawing the Huskies to within 19 points at 49-30. Unfortunately, that's as close as Tech would get the rest of the way.

Bilski paced the Huskies' offense with 15 points by firing in 6 of 12 shots from the field Thursday night. Bilski also contributed two rebounds, two assists, and one steal. White followed with seven points, Powell had six points, and Bell ended the night with five points and a team high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Isaac Appleby distributed three assists and blocked a trio of Ashland shots. As a team, the Huskies made 16 of 52 shots from the floor (30.8%), were 5 of 14 from three-point range (35.7%), and 7 of 8 at the free throw line (87.5%).

The Eagles had four players in double figures, led by Drew Noble with 19 points and six rebounds. Ben Haraway followed with 14 points and four steals, Caldwell tossed in 13 points, and Derek Koch chipped in 12 points. Aaron Thompson only had four points, but contributed a game high 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. The Eagles found success on 25 of 59 shot attempts from the field (42.4%), were 3 of 10 from long distance (30.0%), and 14 of 16 at the free throw line (87.5%). Ashland out-rebounded Tech 41-30 and had 38 points in the paint.

The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they travel to Wayne State University for a GLIAC showdown in Detroit. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. eastern time.