MOORHEAD, Minn. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team suffered a 65-61 non-conference loss to St. Cloud State University Friday night on day one of the MSU-Moorhead Classic Tournament. The game was close throughout, with neither side owning a lead of more than eight points over the course of 40 minutes.
"I thought we competed hard tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "St. Cloud State is a good team and they were able to hit some big shots late in the game. We have to do a better job on the boards if we want to win those games."
Michigan Tech (1-2) struck first Friday night when senior Ellie Welsh lined up a triple on the Huskies opening possession of the contest. The points were setup thanks to a steal by junior Cassidy Trotter 27 seconds into the action. St. Cloud State (2-0) answered on the ensuing possession courtesy of two free throws from Tori Wortz to make it a 3-2 with 8:51 to play in the first quarter.
Welsh then got the Huskies back on the board with a layup before junior Baillie McGirk extended Tech's advantage to 7-2 with just over eight minutes to go in the first. The Huskies continued to lead and built what would be their largest lead of the game at 13-7 at the 3:44 juncture of the first quarter. Sophomore Ellie Mackay sighted in a triple of her own to create the six-point gap.
Unfortunately, St. Cloud State notched the final seven points of the first quarter to slip in front 14-13 with 10 minutes in the books. Brehna Evans found the target on a mid-range jumper to account for the final two St. Cloud State points of the period.
The Huskies were able to tie the game again at 19-19 three minutes into the second quarter on a Trotter free throw, but were forced to play catch-up for the majority of the second period. St. Cloud State put together a 7-0 scoring run to build a 26-19 advantage with 3:44 left in the half, culminating on an Evans layup. Tech freshman Sara Dax found the bottom of the net from long distance at the 3:18 mark and it turned out to be the final basket of the half for either side. St. Cloud State carried a 26-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, St. Cloud State had reconstructed a seven-point lead at 32-25, but the Huskies battled back over the next three minutes to reclaim the advantage. Welsh commenced the 11-3 scoring burst with a triple and back-to-back treys from Dax and Mackay pushed the Huskies back in front 36-35 with 2:53 to go in the third period. However, St. Cloud State countered with a 9-2 run and ended up generating a 44-38 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Trotter tossed in a layup for the Huskies to end the third which provided a boost for Tech at the outset of the fourth period. A 7-0 Tech run in the first two minutes of the fourth deadlocked the game again at 47-47 with sophomore Sloane Zenner doing the honors with a triple at the 8:09 mark. St. Cloud State countered one more time with a 7-0 run and to once again make it a three-possession game in their favor at 54-47. They would go on to maintain at least a two-point lead the rest of the way. The Huskies got to within two points again at 63-61 with 13 seconds left on three free throws from Mackay, but Kelsey Peschel made two free throws of her own to seal the win for St. Cloud State.
The Huskies had four players with 10 points or more Friday night, led by Zenner with 12 after firing in 5 of 9 shot attempts from the field. She also added three rebounds and a pair of steals to the stat sheet. Trotter, Welsh, and Mackay each chipped in 10 points while senior Abbie Botz reeled in a team high six rebounds. Trotter had four assists and six steals with McGirk tacking on nine points and an additional four assists.
As a team, the Huskies made 23 of 59 shots from the field (39.0%), were 9 for 27 from three-point range (33.3%), and 6 of 10 at the free throw line (60.0%). Tech's defense forced 22 turnovers which led to 14 points on the offensive end of the floor.
Wortz had a game high 18 points for St. Cloud State followed by Nikki Kilboten with 13 points in Friday's contest. Peschel had 11 points off the bench and Madelin Dammann had 10 points and a game high 10 rebounds. St. Cloud State found success on 20 of 48 shots from the field (41.7%), were 6 for 17 from long distance (35.3%), and 10 of 29 at the free throw line (65.5%). They out-rebounded the Huskies Friday night 42-27.
The Huskies will look to bounce back Saturday when they take on MSU-Moorhead. The tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. eastern time.