Tech Women open league play with win at SVSU

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UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mi. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team got back on track Thursday night with a 68-57 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at Saginaw Valley State. The Huskies trailed 13-9 through 10 minutes, but combined to outscore the Cardinals in the second and third periods by 15 points to turn the tide of the contest.

"This was a big win for us tonight and a great way to bounce back after suffering three losses in a row and injuries to key players," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "It was so important for our girls to stay positive and keep believing. Every single player came through in a different way at different times tonight and that's something we are going to need all year long. Everyone is going to have contribute in order to make up a lot of points we are missing due to injuries and it was great to see that tonight."

Senior forward Elizabeth Kelliher got the Michigan Tech (4-3, 1-0 GLIAC) offense rolling with the first three points in Thursday night's game. Kelliher cashed in a layup and had a free throw to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead with 7:45 to play in the first quarter. Saginaw Valley State (0-4, 0-1 GLIAC) then battled back to take a 4-3 edge on two free throws from Mariah Cook midway through the first quarter.

Junior Abbie Botz briefly sent Tech back on top 5-4 with a mid-range jumper at the 3:43 mark, but the Cardinals countered with a 7-0 scoring run, culminating on a Julia Cianferra triple to make it an 11-5 score with 1:35 left in the first. Freshman Ellie Mackay eventually brought the Huskies back to within four points at 13-9 right before the buzzer that signaled the end of the first period.

Abby Duffy notched the first point of the second period for the Cardinals 20 seconds in, but a 9-0 scoring burst that followed by the Huskies began to swing the momentum in their favor. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter drove to the basket for a layup and then Botz found the bottom of the net from three-point range to deadlock the score at 14-14 at the 8:55 mark. Trotter gave the Huskies the lead on a layup and added a second consecutive basket to generate an 18-14 edge.

Saginaw Valley State rallied to go ahead again with the next six points and then owned a 23-22 edge with 2:10 to play until the break. However, five points to close the second quarter by the Huskies gave them the lead and momentum heading into intermission. Junior Hannah Hobson dialed in a mid-range jumper with just under two minutes remaining and a triple by Mackay in the final minute made it a 27-23 score in favor of Tech.

The two sides traded buckets in the first few minutes of the second half, but Tech maintained a two-point lead at 31-29 with less than eight minutes to play in the third. The Huskies then began to create some breathing room when junior Ellie Welsh, Kelliher, and Botz teamed up to provide seven unanswered points, resulting in a 38-29 advantage with 4:59 left on the third quarter clock.

The Cardinals kept close and remained within single digits through the end of the third period. Saginaw Valley State cut the gap to six at 42-36 on a free throw from Maddie Barrie, but as time was winding down in the third, Mackay came through with another huge triple to send the Huskies into the fourth quarter with a 45-36 lead, their largest of the night at that juncture.

Tech's advantage went to double digits for the first time at 48-36 thanks to another three-point basket by Mackay in the first minute of the fourth period. The Cardinals made one final charge to draw back to within six points at 51-45 on a layup courtesy of Hannah Settingsgaard, but the Huskies would essentially put the game out of reach with an 11-0 run. Trotter, Botz, and Kelliher sparked the offense to a 62-45 advantage with 2:40 to go and from there the Huskies would lead by double digits the rest of the way.

Four Tech players had 13 or more points in Thursday night's win, led by Trotter and Mackey with season and career highs of 15 points apiece. Trotter added eight rebounds, four assists and three steals while Mackay went 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 5 from behind the three-point arc. Kelliher and Botz each produced double double's in the victory. Kelliher notched 13 points, 12 rebounds, and had a pair of blocked shots followed by Botz with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists.

Kelliher came into the game needing one block to break the Tech school record for career blocks. Kelliher has 199 career blocks following Thursday's performance and now holds the career, single season, and single game school records. Her single game record is nine and the single season mark is 76. Her single game record came at Northwood on February 2nd, 2017 during the 2016-17 campaign, which was the same year she set the single season mark.

As a team, the Huskies made 28 of 70 shots from the field (40.0%), were 6 of 22 from three-point range (27.3%), and 6 for 9 at the free throw line (66.7%). Tech out-rebounded Saginaw Valley State 47-39, recorded 34 points in the paint, and committed just eight turnovers while forcing 12 Saginaw Valley State miscues.

Barrie guided the Cardinals offense with a game high 26 points followed by Duffy with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Tech defense did a great job keeping Duffy in check as she was averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds per night going into the game. Saginaw Valley State was successful on just 21 of 57 shots from the field (36.8%), 9 of 23 from behind the arc (39.1%), and 6 of 15 at the free throw line (40.0%).

The Huskies are back on the court Saturday afternoon when they travel to Northwood University for another GLIAC matchup. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.