No. 1 Eagle women too much for Huskies

HOUGHTON – Geared up to battle reigning GLIAC Player of the Year Kari Daugherty Saturday, Michigan Tech forwards Jillian Ritchie and Danielle Blake limited Ashland’s 6-foot-1 senior forward to 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, earning a post-game thumbs-up from women’s head coach Kim Cameron.

For the rest of the defense, however – not so much.

The nationally top-ranked Eagles (15-0 overall, 8-0 GLIAC) drove away from Houghton with a dominating 76-66 win, that was much more lopsided than the final score would indicate thanks to a flurry of garbage time three-pointers from the Huskies.

Daugherty’s post-partner Daiva Gerbec proved the most troublesome for Tech (8-4 overall, 6-2 GLIAC), pouring in 27 points (11-of-16 shooting) as the 6-foot forward abused Tech’s post defense without resistance time and time again.

“You have to make sure that you are guarding everyone else too,” Cameron said. “You can’t let (Daugherty’s) counterpart go off for (27 points). But that is their team. They are No. 1 for a reason. You have to guard everybody and you have to be sharp on everybody. We were missing one other gutsy person defensively today.”

Offensively, Tech’s slump continued hard in the first half, with the Huskies managing just 20 points on 9-of-27 shooting to enter intermission with a 32-20 deficit.

Over their last four games, the Huskies are shooting just 35 percent as a team.

“We have some offensive options and we need to make sure that we utilize them. Our post play needs to make sure that it is more consistent,” Cameron said. “I thought that we were lacking post play today. We need to make sure that we are really driving the ball inside, those are layups that we need to get and those are opportunities at free throws that we need to get.”

Starting forward Taylor Stippel was held scoreless Saturday on just three shots attempted, despite leading the team in field goal attempts for the season.

In Tech’s four losses this season, Stippel has connected on just 11-of-52 attempts (21 percent). In the last four games (two losses), the junior forward has gone 9-41 (22 percent).

“I think Taylor knows where she needs to be,” Cameron said. “She is disappointed in her offensive production, but I don’t think that is an issue right now.

“First and foremost she has to play defense first. Gerbec had 16 in the first half, and that isn’t acceptable.”

Also on Cameron’s list of unacceptable outcomes was Tech’s free throw attempts.

Where Ashland knocked down 17-of-22 at the line, the Huskies managed only four attempts all game.

“We get through this whole game against the No. 1 team in the country and we have just four free throws. That is an issue,” Cameron said. “We need to make sure that we are getting to the free throw line when we aren’t shooting well.”

The Huskies finally broke away from an extended shooting slump in the final five minutes, trimming the deficit from 24 points to 10 thanks to a 23-point surge. Emma Veach and MacKenzie Perttu led the way, finishing with a trio of triples each.

“That is how we can be all the time, but at that point there is no pressure on us,” Cameron said. “We just have to take the lid off the basket.”