HOUGHTON — No. 9-ranked Michigan Tech overcame a five-point deficit with five minutes remaining to earn a 77-66 victory over Grand Valley State in a GLIAC Tournament Semifinal game today at the SDC Gym. The Huskies got 27 points from Jillian Ritchie and 25 points and 14 rebounds from Danielle Blake to improve to 26-2 overall.
Tech scored points on its first seven trips down the floor after halftime to turn a 33-all score into a 49-39 advantage with at the 15:13 mark.
Grand Valley State (20-8) answered with 13 straight points to grab the lead. They built a 59-54 margin at the 4:54 mark on Brionna Barnett’s 11th basket of the game, giving the GVSU junior 28 points for the contest. She did not score the remainder of the contest.
Kelli Guy’s triple with four minutes to play tied the game at 59. Ritchie’s three-point play with 3:13 to go gave the Huskies their first lead in nine minutes at 62-61.
Tech forced two misses from Barnett, and Danielle Blake and Guy added two free throws apiece for a five-point advantage with 2:20 showing.
Leading by three with 1:10 remaining, Tech called timeout and set up a play. Ritchie drained a 3-ball on the possession for a six-point gap. She added two free throws moments later for a 71-63 advantage, and the Huskies iced it at the foul line with six more makes.
“It was an intense playoff atmosphere today,” said Tech coach Kim Cameron. “I thought both teams gave everything they had for 40 minutes.
“We were able to get a few stops when we needed to, and free throws were huge.”
Michigan Tech weathered a 9-2 Grand Valley State run to open the game and answered with a 12-2 spurt for a 14-11 advantage with 13:30 left. The teams then battled back and forth for the remainder of the half with three more lead changes and five tied scores including halftime at 33 apiece.
Brenna Heise was a go-to option to start the second half, hitting her first three shots to help give Tech its largest lead of the game.
Tech controlled the glass with a 40-29 rebounding advantage. GVSU shot 42 percent compared to the Huskies’ 38, but the Black and Gold converted on an impressive 27-of-29 free throws.
Ritchie notched her 27 points on just 11 shots, making seven of those field goals including 5-of-7 from 3-point range and all eight free throws. Blake’s 25-point output was bolstered by 13-of-15 foul shooting. Guy also reached double digits with 10 points and a team-high four assists.
Michigan Tech will face Ashland, which defeated Walsh 80-64 in the second semifinal, in tomorrow’s (Mar. 8) GLIAC Tournament Championship game at 2 p.m.
(Information/Photo Courtesy of MTU Athletics)