Tech women erase bad memories, Bulldogs

HOUGHTON – With the Ferris State women’s basketball team sweeping Michigan Tech last season to help end a run of four straight GLIAC North Division titles for the Huskies, one image stuck with then-freshman Jillian Ritchie all through the off-season.

“I have a vision of (Ferris State guard Sarah) DeShone fist-pumping on my floor last year as the buzzer went off,” Ritchie said. “It is enough to make you not let it happen again. You have to erase that.”

Tech came at Ferris with a vengeance this year, taking down the Bulldogs 60-46 in Big Rapids before completing the sweep Thursday night with a 68-49 display of dominance. The Huskies led by 20 points with 10 minutes left in the game and Tech head coach Kim Cameron completely emptied the bench at the 5:22 mark with the hosts leading by 26 points.

Cameron likes to spend the pre-season speaking of goals, both team and individual. Thursday’s victory at the SDC?Gym hit plenty of checklists.

“Suffice it to say, I think a lot of the girls will cross that one off. A lot of boxes will be filled in tonight,” Cameron said. “They took a couple from us last year and that was hard on a lot of the girls, especially because we had a lead up here that we lost. We had our eyes on Ferris for a long time.”

Husky shooters hit 7-of-18 three-pointers in the first half to build a 25-22 lead at intermission.

And that was with the offense functioning haltingly against the Ferris zone.

Tech moved the ball crisply inside-and-out once the second half began to connect on 14-of-27 shots and grab nine offensive rebounds in 13 opportunities. They even netted two fast break baskets in a row – the rarest of treats at the SDC – to help usher the Bulldogs out of the gym.

For the game, the Huskies hit 11 threes with 17 assists on 23 made baskets.

Notably, Sam Hoyt finished with seven assists against one turnover. Ferris point guard Sarah DeShone turned the ball over four times without picking up an assist.

“In film when we watched Ferris play defense we saw them collapsing into the post 24/7, so we knew those shots would be open,” Ritchie said. “And even after the game, coach ran out of breath trying to list all the good shooters off. Everyone just did so well. It was very unselfish.”

DeShone managed 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting – with a veritable cornucopia of pump fakes and hesitation moves to tempt defenders – but the rest of the Bulldogs misfired to the tune of 9-for-39 (23 percent) with 12 turnovers against just four assists.

It was a similar result in Big Rapids as the Huskies prevented the dynamic DeShone from setting up her teammates.

“We just attack her on ball screens to try and get her to turn it over,” Ritchie said.

“We didn’t have any leadership at Northern (Michigan),” Cameron added. “But tonight, everyone picked each other up.”

Ritchie in particular stepped it up, setting a career high with 16 points, including 11 in the first half when the Huskies could not solve the Ferris zone. The sophomore forward has now hit double-digit points in three of her last four games and ranks No. 5 in the GLIAC in three-point efficiency at 43.1 percent.

“I am just listening to my coach. She always tells me to shoot more and now I am getting into a rhythm,” Ritchie said. “Being a little selfish is a good thing sometimes.”

Cameron relied heavily on her bench to keep the team rolling in the second half, with the Husky reserves accounting for 25 of the 43 points after intermission.

Emily Harrison and Paige Albi stood out in particular as the duo combined for five offensive rebounds and 16 points.

Harrison was responsible for a pair of hockey-style secondary-assists with excellent outlet passes to spark the Tech fast-break layups and build the lead to 20 points.

“I thought Emily Harrison was standout,” Cameron said. “She posted up hard, and when the ball came in she was doing something with it, whether scoring or kicking it out.”

With Wayne State overcoming Northwood in overtime, the Huskies still trail by one half-game in the North Division and host Grand Valley State Saturday. The Lakers defeated Tech 76-64 in January.