Tech Women pull away to dispatch Pride

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HAMMOND, In. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team held off Purdue Northwest for a 67-49 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win Thursday night on the road. The Huskies outscored the Pride 23-9 in the fourth quarter to pull away following a back and forth battle through the first 30 minutes.

"I give a ton of credit to Purdue Northwest for playing hard and controlling most of the game until we were able to get moving in the right direction in the fourth quarter," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "I think we did some things well defensively, but struggled to execute in other aspects tonight. Offensively, I thought we did a good job looking to get the ball inside to Elizabeth [Kelliher], who had a great game for us. We face another tough opponent on Saturday at Parkside and we need to be more focused in order to give ourselves a chance to get a win. We'll also need to do a good job handling their pressure, play better on the defensive end of the floor, and hit some more shots offensively."

Michigan Tech (13-7, 9-3 GLIAC) and Purdue Northwest (2-16, 0-12 GLIAC) traded basket for basket for three quarters Thursday night. The Huskies trailed after the first possession of the evening when Molly Devalkenaere gave the Pride the early edge on a layup 30 seconds into the action. The Huskies found themselves tied or behind until the 5:20 mark of the first quarter when junior Hannah Hobson created the first lead of the night at 6-4 on a jumper in the paint.

Late in the first quarter, freshman Sloane Zenner gave the Huskies what would be their largest advantage of the first half. Zenner found some open space on the perimeter and junior Abbie Botz located her with the pass for an open three-point bucket. Zenner's triple made it a 15-11 score with 36 seconds remaining on the first quarter clock.

The Huskies trailed for a good portion of the second quarter and with just under a minute to play until the break, faced a 33-29 deficit. Tech ended the half on a high note though with four consecutive points to knot the score at the break 33-33. Senior Elizabeth Kelliher produced all four points on a layup and two free throws right before the buzzer sounded.

The Pride stormed out of the gate in the third quarter by posting four straight points to rebuild a 37-33 lead. Freshman Ellie Mackay countered on a mid-range jumper with 7:42 left in the third to help spark a 7-0 Huskies scoring run. Sophomore Cassidy Trotter tied the contest at 37-37 on a layup and added a free throw to recapture the edge for Tech. Kelliher capped the run on another layup with just over six minutes showing on the third quarter clock.

Shae Rhonehouse briefly evened the score at 40-40 on a triple for the Pride, but the Huskies began to turn the tide in their direction during the final moments of the third period. Botz dialed in a key jumper with 1:33 left and then Trotter followed suit with 34 seconds to play in the third, giving Tech a 44-40 edge heading into the final quarter Thursday night.

Those two field goals turned into an 11-0 run which culminated on a three-point basket by junior Ellie Welsh at the eight-minute juncture of the fourth quarter. The Welsh basket gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead of the evening at 51-40, although the Pride would stay within striking distance until late in the frame.

Purdue Northwest climbed back to within five points at 52-47 on a Rhonehouse layup with 6:19 to play, but the Pride managed to produce only two more points the rest of the way. Mackay answered the Rhonehouse basket with a trey for Tech and then a layup courtesy of Kelliher bumped the gap back out to double digits at 57-47 with 4:46 remaining. In total, the Huskies outpaced the Pride 15-2 down the stretch to take the victory.

Kelliher poured in a season high 21 points and was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field to power the Huskies' offense Thursday night. Kelliher added six rebounds and blocked a season best five shots in the win. Trotter followed with 14 points and six steals, Welsh tacked on eight points, Botz chipped in six points and a game high eight rebounds, and Hobson led the team with four assists.

As a team, the Huskies connected on 28 of 64 shots from the field (43.8%), were 5 of 26 from three-point range (19.2%), and 6 of 9 at the free throw line (66.7%). Tech notched 38 points in the paint and forced 30 Pride turnovers which led to 28 points on the offensive end of the floor. Tech held an opponent to less than 50 points in a game for the seventh time this season.

Danielle Nennig paced Purdue Northwest with 11 points followed by Taylor Vauters and Rhonehouse with 10 points apiece. Vauters finished the evening with a team high seven rebounds and five assists. The Pride found the target on 16 of 48 shots from the field (33.3%), were 4 of 17 from long distance (23.5%), and 13 of 19 at the charity stripe (68.4%). Purdue Northwest had a slight edge in rebounding at 38-35.

The Huskies take the floor again on Saturday for another GLIAC contest at Parkside. The Rangers enter the game coming off a 72-64 win over Northern Michigan Thursday night. Saturday's tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. eastern time.