ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The magical run is over. The No. 3-ranked Michigan Tech women’s basketball team ran into a hot Emporia State team in the national quarterfinal round of the NCAA Elite Eight and lost 91-85 tonight in front of 1,936 fans at Civic Arena. The No. 15-ranked Lady Hornets blistered the nets for 57 percent and will move on to the national semifinal. The Huskies finish with a 31-3 record, and the careers of six remarkable seniors end after two straight trips to the NCAA Elite Eight.
“We’ve hung our hat on defense all year, and we just didn’t have an answer for their offense tonight,” said head coach John Barnes, who concluded his seventh year on the Tech bench with a 156-55 record. “Give Emporia a lot of credit. They had a great game plan and executed very well.”
For the second straight year in the Elite Eight, Tech held the lead at halftime (37-35 tonight). Emporia started the second half by scoring the first six points and had the margin up to eight midway through the half as the Huskies suffered a four-minute scoring drought.
Five straight points from Sarah Stream cut the margin to 64-59 and forced the Hornets to call timeout with 7:21 to go. ESU answered immediately with two points in the post and scored six straight to grab the largest lead of the game at 70-59 with 6:30 to play.
Again the Huskies battled to within five on Stream’s layup, but Emporia responded once more—this time with a 3-pointer from the right corner.
The margin was 10 as the clock crossed the two-minute mark, but Tech did not give up. The Huskies began fouling and getting quick scores. Katie Wysocky scored eight straight points on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup to pull the Midwest Regional Champions within 87-83 with :31 left. After 1-of-2 free throws were made by Emporia, Stream swished a jumper in the paint to cut it to 88-85 with 19 seconds remaining.
The Hornets’ Sophia Lenard, who had 22 points off the bench, then made two free throws and the Huskies would not score again.
“I was hoping our defense and experience could get us over the hump,” said Barnes. “They made shots every time we made a run to get close.
“Sometimes in a tournament you need to be lucky and not run into a hot team.”
Emporia received its scoring from the bench, getting 52 points including a game-high 28 from center Alli Volkens who was 10-of-11 from the field and 8-of-10 at the foul line. Tech’s five senior starters all scored in double figures and accounted for 82 of the team’s 85 points.
Both teams started the game hot from the field. Tech made its first six field goals and ESU its first three. Danae Danen posted nine points in the opening five minutes, but picked up her second foul at the 14:58 mark and sat the remainder of the half. The teams traded the lead 11 times in the opening half. Tech made 7-of-12 3-pointers in the frame to take the 37-35 edge into the locker room.
The Huskies had a strong shooting night with 46 percent of their field goals falling including 11-of-22 from behind the arc. The performance just didn’t match Emporia’s mark of 57 percent from the field. ESU also made 28-of-38 free throws (74 percent) compared to 16-of-21 for Tech.
Wysocky notched a team-high 22 points to go with 10 rebounds for her 25th double-double of the season and 61st of her career—second-most in NCAA Division II history. Stream and Danen both added 19 points. Stream dished out six assists with just one turnover.
Katie Zimmerman scored 12 points and was 2-of-5 from 3-point range. Tara Ferris had 10 points.
Tech’s sixth senior, Maria Kasza, played six minutes off the bench but did not score.
The Michigan Tech seniors finish with a mind-boggling 7,326 combined career points.
Wysocky summed up the experience for the class. “We made a lot of great memories over the years. Win or lose, we can be proud of ourselves and what we’ve accomplished.”
Besides the list of statistical records, the group finishes with an impressive 100-27 record over the last four years.