ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The No. 3-ranked Michigan Tech women\’s basketball team took down the No. 1-ranked Arkansas Tech Golden Suns 69-58 tonight in the Elite Eight to advance to the national semifinal game tomorrow. The Huskies improved to 30-2 on the season as their
defense held ATU (30-3) to 27 points below its season average of 85.
\”We pride ourselves on our defense and it paid off tonight,\” said head coach Kim Cameron, who earlier in the day was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year. \”I thought our kids really stepped up to the challenge tonight. They made some runs, but we responded again and again.\”
Tech, playing in its third straight Elite Eight, finally broke through to the semifinals with defense. Arkansas Tech entered the game with the nation\’s highest field goal percentage at 51. The Huskies held them to 34 percent including 4-of-16 from 3-point range.
Doing a load of the defensive work was Lindsey Lindstrom, who limited ATU\’s Jenny Vining to 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting. The Golden Suns\’ other star player Natalia Santos, tallied eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. Lisa Staehlin and Lynn Giesler combined for the defensive effort there.
Giesler was called on early in the game as Staehlin picked up her second foul with 15:18 left in the first half. ATU jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but the Huskies responded.
Sam Hoyt\’s layup put the Black and Gold on top for the first time,15-13, but the scoreboard didn\’t show it. The scoreboard lights showed a 16-12 ATU advantage. A 10-minute delay ensued while the referees conferred and got the score right.
Hoyt picked up her second foul with 4:28 remaining in the half, but the Huskies weathered the storm and stayed within 29-28 at half.
Tech held ATU without a field goal through the first 4:20 of the second half and built up a 46-36 advantage with 13 minutes to play. The margin grew to 54-38 on Angela Guisfredi\’s fifth 3-pointer of the game at the 11:28 mark.
The No.-1 ranked Golden Suns would not go quietly. They scored the next nine points to pull within 52-47 at the 7:53 mark.
Staehlin then went to work scoring five times down the stretch, culminating with a three-point play with 1:27 showing that turned a five-point margin into an eight-point gap. Arkansas Tech did not score for the final 3:50 as the Huskies ended the game on a 6-0 run.
\”It\’s hard sitting on the bench when you want to be in there so bad,\” said Staehlin. \”Having only the second half, I knew I had to contribute.\”
Tech shot 41 percent for the game thanks to a 55-percent second half. Staehlin was a huge part of that, making 7-of-10 field goals and scoring all 15 of her points after the intermission.
Hoyt posted a team-high 18 points. Guisfredi added 16 more. The two combined to make all nine of Tech\’s 3-pointers in the game. The team was 9-of-24 for 38 percent.
Lucy Dernovsek had an uncharacteristic 2-of-10 shooting night, but more than made up for it with a game-high 16 points, three assists, two block and two steals.
ATU was paced by Jessica Weatherford\’s 21 points.
Michigan Tech has now won a school-record 17 games in a row. The Huskies will make their second appearance in the NCAA Final Four in school history (they finished in third place in 1993).
Tech will face the winner of Cal Poly Pomona and Northwest Missouri State at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT tomorrow (Mar. 23).
Notes: Michigan Tech has defeated the last two No. 1-ranked teams it has faced. Arkansas Tech tonight and Northern Kentucky in a Midwest Regional semifinal back on Mar. 14, 2009 … The Huskies have reached 30 wins for just the third time in school history. The school record for wins was set a year ago at 31.