HOUGHTON, Mi. The Michigan Tech women's basketball team got back on track Thursday night with a 63-53 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Purdue Northwest in the SDC Gym. The Huskies engineered a quick start by outscoring the Pride 21-9 in the first quarter, which set the tone for the rest of the evening.
"It was great to be back at home and it was an awesome atmosphere to play in tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "I think that gave us a ton of energy and in the first quarter we were ready to go. We did a great job executing at the outset and it was huge for us to be able to limit them to just nine points in the first quarter. We had some of our freshmen playing a lot of minutes and I thought they did an outstanding job tonight.
"Parkside is a very tough team that is constantly moving offensively and the top five players in their lineup can shoot three-point baskets really well. The biggest thing for us on Saturday is being sharp defensively on every single possession. I think we have some good matchups inside and we'll have to do a solid job handling their pressure. If we can do that, we'll have a chance to get some high percentage shots."
Michigan Tech (8-13, 6-8 GLIAC) immediately attacked the paint Thursday night when senior Ellie Welsh found freshman Sara Dax open underneath the basket for the first field goal of the game. Purdue Northwest (6-16, 5-9 GLIAC) took their only lead of the evening when Anjel Galbraith dialed in a triple to make it 3-2 with 8:47 on the first quarter clock. The Huskies then reeled off the next six points in a row on another layup by Dax followed by two free throws apiece from Welsh and sophomore Ellie Mackay.
The Pride closed the gap to two at 8-6 on another trey from Galbreath with 6:29 left in the first quarter, but the Huskies would counter about a minute later. Senior Hannah Hobson ignited what would become an 11-0 scoring run for Tech with a jumper in the paint. Welsh then connected from downtown followed by a Mackay mid-range jumper, a Dax three-point bucket, and a free throw from freshman Kylie Mogen. The Mogen free throw extended Tech's advantage to 19-6 with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Pride recorded the next three points before Mackay capped the quarter with a jumper in the final minute of the opening frame, resulting in a 21-9 Tech lead through 10 minutes. The Huskies continued to produce points on offense while shutting down the Pride's attack with solid defense to begin the second quarter. Junior Cassidy Trotter and freshman Katelyn Meister combined to produce the first six points of the second period to lead 25-9.
Trotter gave the Huskies their largest lead of the night at 35-11 on a conventional three-point play with 5:29 remaining until the intermission. Purdue Northwest closed to within 14-points at 37-23 at the break and continued to keep some pressure on the Huskies throughout the second half. The Pride quietly sliced Tech's cushion down to six-points twice in the final two-minutes of the fourth quarter, but each time the Huskies were able to answer with some clutch free throw shooting. Tech ended up converting six free throws in the final 90 seconds to preserve the 63-53 victory.
Mackay wrapped up the night as Tech's leading scorer thanks to 16 points against the Pride. Trotter followed with 14 points while Dax had a season high 12 points and paced the team on the glass with nine rebounds. Hobson fired in nine points and added five rebounds, Welsh chipped in seven points, and Mogen reeled in eight of the Huskies 38 boards in the contest.
As a team, the Huskies connected on 22 of 46 shots from the field (47.8%), were 4 of 16 from behind the three-point arc (25.0%), and 15 of 20 at the free throw line (75.0%). Tech out-rebounded Purdue Northwest 38-30, had 12 combined assists, and scored 28 points in the paint.
Molly Devalkenaere led the Pride with 14 points followed by Savaya Brockington with 13 points and a team best six rebounds. The Huskies' defense limited Purdue Northwest shooters to 21 makes on 61 attempts from the field (34.4%), the Pride found success on 8 of 23 shots from three-point range (34.8%), and were 3 of 7 at the charity stripe (42.9%).
The Huskies are back on the floor Saturday when they host Parkside on Winter Carnival Weekend. The Rangers fell at Northern Michigan 60-55 in their Thursday night game. Saturday's tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. eastern time.