Hot shooting Eagles upset Huskies

HOUGHTON — In a one-and-done tournament format, you don’t want to run into a hot team. That’s exactly what happened to the Michigan Tech tonight in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Midwest Region Semifinal. Ashland grabbed a 49-19 halftime lead and held off the Huskies in the second half for a 70-51 final at the SDC Gym.

The Eagles (25-8) shot 71 percent in the opening 20 minutes including 7-of-8 from 3-point range. The visitors’ flawless first half included holding Tech to 25 percent from the floor and putting up a 19-7 advantage in rebounds.

The score was tied at 13-all eight minutes into the game, and Tech was still within 25-17 with 7:53 remaining in the frame. AU then scored 21 unanswered points and finished the half on a 24-2 run for a 30-point lead at halftime. Taylor Woods hit all six of her first-half 3-pointers and had 22 points at the break.

Tech made defensive adjustments at halftime that really slowed the Eagles down. Ashland scored just five points in the first 10 minutes after halftime as the Huskies’ full-court press forced eight turnovers.

Three consecutive 3-pointers—one each from Morgan Anderson, Kelli Guy and Jillian Ritchie—ignited the crowd and pulled the Black and Gold within 16 (54-38) with 10:01 to play. Tech got its ninth turnover moments later on a scramble in the Huskies frontcourt. Guy came up with the ball at the 3-point arc and was getting set to shoot when Laina Snyder came from behind and stole it away.

AU (25-8) pushed the gap back to 20 less than a minute later. The hosts continued to battle, getting a Danielle Blake 3-pointer to close within 60-45 at the 6:40 mark. That’s as close as Tech would get the rest of the way. Snyder got two easy layups as the Eagles beat the Huskies’ press to push the gap back to 19.

“Ashland came out ready to play,” said Tech coach Kim Cameron. “They’re led by their senior Taylor Woods, who has won a national championship and knows what it takes. She put everybody on her shoulders and carried them.”

Woods had just one second-half point, but finished with a game-high 23. The Eagles’ two freshmen post players, Synder and Andi Daugherty, both had double doubles with points and rebounds.

Blake notched 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Huskies in both categories. Anderson added 12 points and four assists.

Tech finished at 32 percent from the floor and 5-of-21 (24 percent) from long range. Ashland cooled off in the second half, but still tallied percentages of 54 from the field and 58 from behind the arc.

The visitors posted a 42-22 edge in rebounds. Tech committed 13 turnovers and forced 18.

“We gave everything that we had for the final 20 minutes and gave ourselves a chance with our second half defense. The problem was giving up 49 in the first half. You just can’t do that,” added Cameron.

Two Michigan Tech seniors—Ritchie and Emily Harrison—played their final games tonight. Ritchie posted five points and three rebounds to run her career totals to 825 and 546 in those two categories, respectively. Harrison finished her career with 288 points and 141 rebounds.

“It was an awesome season,” said Cameron. “It’s always unfortunate when it comes to an end, especially for the seniors. They were a big reason for what our team became.

“It was a fun year. We got better each day and competed every night, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

The Huskies compiled a 28-3 overall record with GLIAC regular season and tournament titles to their credit. The 28 wins tied for the fourth-most in the 40 years of the program’s history.

(Information/Photo Courtesy of MTU Athletics)