Tech Women drop seesaw battle to Wisconsin Parkside

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KENOSHA, Wi. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team suffered an 81-73 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference setback on the road at Parkside Thursday night. The Huskies rallied from a nine-point deficit at halftime to grab a 55-52 edge late in the third quarter, but the Rangers were able to regroup in the fourth quarter to pull away.

"I thought we did a much better job attacking pressure in the second half," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "Cassidy [Trotter] and Ellie [Mackay] stepped up on that end, but it really comes down to our defense. We didn't get stops when we needed to and let their best players catch fire. We gave up too many layups and rhythm three's that led to high shooting percentages for them. We have to be better defensively if we want to compete in this league."

Carolina Rahkonen opened the scoring for Parkside (8-6, 5-1 GLIAC) with a triple after both teams were held off the scoreboard for the first 90 seconds of the game. Senior Hannah Hobson got Michigan Tech (5-8, 3-3 GLIAC) on the board with a layup following an offensive rebound with 8:04 to play in the first quarter.

Following a layup from Parkside's Taylor Stephen that made it 5-2, the Huskies responded with the next four points to slide in front for the first time. Junior Cassidy Trotter hit a mid-range jumper on the ensuing possession followed by a jumper from senior Abbie Botz, resulting in a 6-5 lead for Tech at the 7:26 mark of the first frame.

After a series of traded points, the Rangers were able to open up a 16-11 gap on a Grace Scalzo triple with 4:19 to play in the first. The Huskies kept the Rangers in their sights and prevented them from putting together a larger run. Hobson pulled the Huskies back to within two points at 20-18 on a layup right before the end of the first period.

Hobson then quickly deadlocked the score at 20-20 on the initial possession of the second period, once again finding her way into the paint where she received a pass from junior Cassidy Trotter to setup the field goal. Unfortunately, Parkside connected on back-to-back treys and held the lead for the rest of the half. The Rangers eventually created a 33-22 lead on a three-point bucket from Alyssa Nelson at the midway point of the second quarter, their largest advantage of the night at that juncture.

The Huskies chipped away at the deficit over the next few minutes though and with just under a minute to play until the break, Trotter pulled Tech back to within three-points at 38-35 on a pair of free throws. However, Parkside finished off the half with two more triples and tacked on another to begin the third, leaving the score at 47-35 with 9:22 on the clock.

The Huskies continued to trail by double digits until a three-point attempt by Trotter found the target with 6:06 to play in the third. Trotter's field goal sliced the gap to 52-45 and ignited a 13-0 scoring run by the Huskies. The burst was capped by sophomore Ellie Mackay, thanks to a field goal with 47 seconds remaining in the third. Mackay's basket gave the Huskies a 55-52 lead and some much-needed momentum.

Once again though, the Rangers regrouped with an 8-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead. Rahkonen dropped in a layup to wrap up the third period and then with 7:40 to play in the fourth, Claire Jakaitis attacked the paint for an additional layup to close the run. The Huskies remained within striking distance until the end, but weren't able to engineer another run in the final moments to overtake Parkside.

Mackay paced the Huskies with 21 points and had three steals on the defensive end of the floor followed by Hobson with 20 points and eight rebounds. Trotter tacked on 17 points and hauled down seven rebounds while Botz notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. As a team, the Huskies connected on 26 of 67 shots from the field (38.8%), were 4 of 13 from behind the arc (30.8%), and 17 of 19 at the free throw line (89.5%). Tech won the battle of the boards 41-32 and had 14 second chance points.

Stephen led the Rangers with 20 points and eight rebounds followed by Nelson with 19 points Thursday night. Jakaitis had 14 points off the bench and Rahkonen rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 points. Maddy Harrison collected eight points and a team high nine rebounds. Parkside found success on 26 of 58 shots from the field (44.8%), were 9 of 23 from long distance (39.1%), and 20 of 22 at the free throw line (90.9%). The Rangers were able to post 18 points off of turnovers.

The Huskies will look to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Purdue Northwest for another GLIAC matchup. The tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. eastern time.