Courtesy of MTU Athletics
HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech needed a putback layup from Jillian Ritchie with five seconds left in regulation and 3-pointer from the junior with :23 remaining in overtime to advance to the semifinals of the GLIAC Tournament with a 69-63 victory over Saginaw Valley State tonight at the SDC Gym. The Huskies got 19 points and 13 rebounds from senior Paige Albi and 19 more from Danielle Blake to win their eighth straight GLIAC Quarterfinal game.
“It’s hard to think about it possibly being your last game,” said Albi. “I played every play like it was going to be my last. I wanted to do everything I could to play another day.”
While Albi was the star of the game with her second double-double of the season, it was Ritchie’s clutch shots—her only two all night—that proved to be the decisive points.
“We got big time plays from a lot of players,” said coach Kim Cameron. “Jillian’s were obviously huge.
“She’s a confident shooter, and she knocked them down.”
Ritchie collected a Mackenzie Perttu miss on the weak side and laid it in to knot the game at 56 with :05 showing. The Cardinals had a last-second chance that rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.
Albi fouled out on an offensive charge on the first possession of overtime. Her teammates stepped up to get her another game.
Blake converted a three-point play 53 seconds into the extra session and added a free throw on the next possession for a 60-56 margin. Later in the frame, Perttu’s layup gave the hosts a 62-57 cushion.
SVSU worked it back to a one-point game at the 1:41 mark.
Tech then kept the ball on its offensive end of the floor for 1:18 with a pair of offensive rebounds. Ritchie’s 3-pointer extended the margin to 65-61, eventually serving as the game-winning points.
Perttu and Kate Glankowski both made a pair of free throws in the final seconds for the final margin.
“Paige was emotional after her fifth foul, and we told the team to look at her,” said Cameron. “They responded.”
The game looked much different before and after halftime. Neither team shot better than 32 percent in the first 20 minutes.
The Cardinals grabbed the lead in the final two minutes of the stanza and led 25-22 at the intermission.
The SVSU advantage grew to as many as seven (47-40) with less than eight minutes to play before the Huskies went on an 8-0 run. Back-to-back layups from Albi closed the margin to 47-46 before Blake gave Tech the lead at the foul line.
The visitors pushed the margin back to 53-49 with 2:23 to go.
An Albi 3-pointer at the 1:44 mark evened the score at 54. Tech was called for a foul on the ensuing possession, and Katelyn Carriere made both free throws for a two-point SVSU edge.
After a timeout, Perttu drove to the hoop and missed too strong. Ritchie cleaned up the rebound to send the game to overtime.
“The ball just fell in my lap and I put it in,” she said.
Ritchie finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Blake added four rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals to her 19 points. Perttu notched 15 points and seven boards.
Albi’s 13 rebounds, 10 of which came in the first half, were a career high.
Michigan Tech, which improved to 19-8 overall, will now travel to Detroit to face Northern Michigan on Saturday (Mar. 8) in the GLIAC Tournament Semifinals. Game time is to be announced.