HOUGHTON, Mich. – Posting a strong start to their 2020-21 campaign against Purdue Northwest last week, the Michigan Tech women’s basketball team returns to Houghton to host Northwood (2-0) Friday and Saturday night at SDC Gymnasium. The Timberwolves scored 99 and 87 points respectively in a two-game sweep over Davenport so the Huskies will anticipate a difficult test on their home court.
LAST TIME OUT
Stable first half defense and efficient shooting keyed Michigan Tech women’s basketball’s 67-44 road victory over Purdue Northwest Friday night at PNW Fitness Center in the season opener. The Huskies held the Pride to just a single basket in the first quarter and found layup lanes early and often to build a 19-3 lead, the catalyst for a decisive road win.
Junior Ellie Mackay led all players with 17 points and four assists. Alex Rondorf (13 points) and Sloane Zenner (12 points) also made it to double figures and Jordan Ludescher made her return to the lineup and helped the Huskies on both ends of the floor.
Trailing much of the game Saturday afternoon, the Michigan Tech snuck past Purdue Northwest in the closing moments 58-56 at PNW Fitness Center. Baillie McGirk made a crucial block on PNW’s Dash Shaw with 3.7 seconds remaining and made one free throw to keep the Huskies in front at the final buzzer. The win secured a two-game weekend sweep for the road team and MTU stayed undefeated at 2-0 on the season.
Ludescher led the way in game two with 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Mackay finished with 13 points and Cassidy Trotter tabbed 10 points and a team high six rebounds.
MACKAY KNOWS THE WAY
Scoring 30 points on the week, Mackay made a strong case to be the team’s go-to scorer again this season. The Novi, Michigan native was effective with 12.2 points per game a year ago along with 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals. With Mackay and senior Cassidy Trotter, the Huskies proved capable of winning even when they fail to shoot efficiently. MTU shot 48-percent Friday and 41-percent Saturday against the Pride.
In her tenure, Mackay has been GLIAC freshman of the year, All-GLIAC second team, and GLIAC North Division Player of the Week. She finished fifth in the league for 3-point percentage (41.7-percent) in 2018-19.
Both seniors, Baillie McGirk and Trotter saw significant minutes against Purdue Northwest. McGirk (Rockford, Illinois) managed 11 combined points and eight rebounds on the weekend. A guard, McGirk also distributed seven assists and added a pair of steals. She will look to increase her role this season after appearing in 11 games with four starts a year ago.
Trotter was named All-GLIAC second team as a junior. She also led the team in scoring thanks to a 12.3 points per game average. Trotter converts a majority of her free-throw attempts and ranked fourth in the conference in the category at 85.1-percent. On defense, she anticipates extremely well and led the league in steals per game (2.8). Trotter marked 13 points and seven boards over 52 minutes on the floor at PNW.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Tech has company at the top of the GLIAC North Division standings with rival Northern Michigan also at 2-0. Makaylee Kuhn earned GLIAC player of the week after posting 56 points and seven rebounds in two extremely tight victories over Wisconsin-Parkside. Other undefeated clubs in the South Division include Ashland (2-0), Grand Valley State (2-0), Northwood (2-0), and Wayne State (2-0).
Kuhn leads the league in points per game at 28.0 with Adele Kemp (Northwood) not far behind at 24.0. Samantha Potter (Northern Michigan) and Emily Spitzley (Grand Valley State) share the top spot for rebounds at 10.5 RPG.
SCOUTING THE TIMBERWOLVES
Outstanding offense was the howling card of the Timberwolves last weekend. Friday night, Northwood scored a school record 37 points in the third quarter to down Davenport 99-67 with 10 assists and zero turnovers over the 10-minute span. Kemp posted a career high 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting and went 5-6 from 3-point range and 3-3 from the foul line.
The following night, Northwood used a dominant opening quarter to take care of the Panthers 87-58. Makenzie Todd led the squad with 23 points (8 of 11), including 4-6 from long range. Kemp scored 20 points while Brooke Ditto inched close to double-double status with 13 points, nine rebounds.
Northwood was projected to finish fifth in the GLIAC South Division in the recent preseason coaches’ poll. The Timberwolves were young last season but still won six of their final nine games, despite having just two upperclassmen on the roster. With 11 of those players back and nearly 90-percent of the scoring from a year ago returning, Northwood is poised to make a big run up the standings.
With so many returning players, 17th-year head coach Jeff Curtis brought in just freshmen, both of which are expected to contribute right away. Forward Maddi Voelker and center Alana Nelson should expect to see the floor early in their careers.
PRE-SEASON GLIAC POLLS
Ferris State took the top spot in the North Division with 53 votes (six first place). Michigan Tech was not far behind at 47 points (two first place). Northern Michigan, Wisconsin-Parkside, Purdue Northwest, and Lake Superior State rounded out the division.
In the south, top-ranked Ashland is back with 61 votes (11 first place), followed by Grand Valley State (43-1), Saginaw Valley St. (39), Wayne State (28), Northwood (27), and Davenport (18).
Trotter was selected GLIAC women’s basketball preseason all-conference for the Huskies.
Tessa Leece scored five points in seven minutes of playing time Friday night, including one 3-pointer on three tries and a pair of free throws. Mady Draak (Green Bay, Wisconsin) played seven minutes against Purdue Northwest on January 8. The center is still in search of her first collegiate points, as is Aspen Michelin (Marquette, Michigan) who made her debut with three minutes on Friday.