SAGINAW, Mich. – The Michigan Tech women's basketball team closed out a four-game road trip with a tough 85-77 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference setback at Saginaw Valley State Saturday afternoon. The Huskies fired out of the gate quickly with an 8-2 lead, but the Cardinals swung the momentum in their favor with a 22-13 third quarter and held off a late comeback bid by Tech.
"I was happy with the way our team started the game today, especially offensively," Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt said. "I thought we moved the ball better and scored in transition which is something we wanted to do. In the second half, we had a tough time slowing them down and struggled a bit defensively. Overall, I am proud of the way our girls fought today and we began to look a little more like ourselves which was good to see. I am definitely excited to be back at home for Winter Carnival after four games on the road. We face two more good teams in Purdue Northwest and Parkside and we'll work hard this week in practice to be ready to go Thursday."
Michigan Tech (7-13, 5-8 GLIAC) cracked the scoreboard first on Saturday when senior Abbie Botz cleared an offensive rebound followed by a layup to make it a 2-0 score 40 seconds into the contest. It was also a great start for Botz, who would go on to post a season high 21 points by the time the final buzzer sounded. Junior Cassidy Trotter followed with a layup of her own before Saginaw Valley State broke through for the first time on a layup from Kaitlyn Zarycki at the 8:29 mark of the first quarter.
The Huskies logged four more consecutive points when sophomore Ellie Mackay advanced to the free throw line and cashed in both attempts followed by another Botz layup a minute later. Maddie Barrie brought the Cardinals to within two points at 10-8 on a layup, but Botz bumped Tech's advantage out to four points again at 12-8 with another high percentage shot in the paint.
Mariah Cook then evened the score at 12-12 with 2:41 to play in the first, but the Huskies would wrap up the quarter strong with the final four points. Botz teamed up with freshman Sara Dax on back-to-back layups right before the horn to end the first quarter. The field goal by Dax gave the Huskies a 16-12 edge with 10 minutes in the books.
Trotter reconstructed a six-point lead for Tech 90 seconds into the second quarter via a layup to make it 18-12. The Cardinals eventually evened the score at 20-20 on a jumper from Zarycki before eventually taking a 29-25 lead on a trey from Maloney with 4:36 to go in the half. The Huskies bounced back to tie the game at 29-29 on a four-point play from junior Baillie McGirk with 3:45 on the clock. Tech then fell behind 34-29 with just over a minute remaining until the intermission, but outscored the Cardinals 7-2 down the stretch, resulting in a 36-36 score at the break. Senior Michelle LaFave have five of Tech's points during that span of time.
The Huskies regained the advantage at 42-38 in the early stages of the third period on a layup by Trotter and a mid-range jumper from senior Hannah Hobson. However, Saginaw Valley State changed the complexion of the game over the next few minutes by producing a 15-0 scoring run, culminating on a triple by Zarycki to make it 53-42 with 3:15 left in the third. Tech cut the deficit back to single digits at 58-49 on a Hobson free throw in the final minute of the quarter and that's the way the score would read going into the fourth frame.
McGirk notched the first basket of the fourth quarter for the Huskies, but then an 8-0 run by the Cardinals generated their largest lead of the afternoon. Cook converted on two-free throw attempts and at that juncture the score was 66-51 with 7:09 to go. The Huskies kept battling and climbed back to within four points twice in the final minute of the game.
Mackay closed the gap to 79-75 on two free throws, but Cook answered with two successful shots at the free throw line herself. McGirk then sank two shots at the stripe for the Huskies, but two free throws by Maddie Barrie, a defensive stop, and two more free throws at the charity stripe for Zarycki sealed the win for Saginaw Valley State.
Botz powered the Huskies with a team high 21 points and 10 rebounds on the way to her fifth double-double of the season. McGirk followed with a season high 12 points off the bench, Hobson and Trotter finished with 11 points each, and Mackay rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. Trotter wrapped up the afternoon with four assists and four steals. As a team, the Huskies made 30 of 64 shots from the field (46.9%), were 6 of 18 from three-point range (33.3%), and 11 of 13 at the free throw line (84.6%). Tech scored 13 points off of 20 SVSU turnovers and logged 46 points in the paint.
Zarycki led all scorers with 25 points, Barrie posted 18 points, Tori DePerry produced 14 points, and Maloney was the fourth player with double figure point totals at 12 points. Cook chipped in nine points and grabbed a team best seven rebounds. Maloney dished out eight assists to pace the Cardinals in that stat category. The Cardinals connected on 26 of 48 shots from the field (54.2%), were 11 for 20 from three-point range (55.0%), and 22 of 26 at the free throw line (84.6%). Saginaw Valley State out-rebounded the Huskies 36-22.
The Huskies will be back on the floor Thursday night when they host Purdue Northwest in the SDC Gym. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern time.