Taming Taylor key for Tech

HOUGHTON – In the January 76-64 loss to the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team, Michigan Tech held Lakers senior forward Briauna Taylor went off for 30 points. In the 69-58 win over GVSU in February, Taylor was held to 17 points on 33 percent shooting.

When it comes to playing Grand Valley today at the Student Development Complex for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals, it really is that simple, Huskies coach Kim Cameron says.

“She is everything to that team,” Cameron said. “If you can find a way to slow her, you give yourself a chance.”

Of course, talking about Taylor is much easier than defending her.

The 5-foot-9 swing-forward boasts an inside-out combo game unrivaled in the GLIAC and isn’t shy about putting the ball up. Taylor ranks in the conference’s top 10 in points (16 per game), shot attempts (13 per contest) and free throw attempts (five per game, 80 percent shooting).

There is no secret to defending her and no gimmick the Huskies will employ. Taylor will just be where Tech’s focus lies every play she is on the court.

“Not let her touch the ball, really that is the only way to prevent her from hurting you,” Cameron said. “I thought we did a great job on her last time and she still ended up with 17, but that is the type of player she is.”

Of course, as versatile as Taylor is, the Huskies may enjoy the only other player in the GLIAC physically capable of matching up with her.

Standing at a long 6-foot tall, freshman guard Danielle Blake harassed Taylor into her least efficient GLIAC game in February after Blake saw just nine minutes of action in the January loss.

While Taylor possesses a definitive strength advantage over Blake, the Tech freshman can match her quickness and length.

“Taylor has a physical advantage on Dani, but I thought Dani’s length really bothered her and Dani is quick to the basketball,” Cameron said. “For us it felt like she was one step ahead of her and really contested a lot of her shots. we have to have that for us to have a chance.”

While Blake has occasionally suffered from fits of passivity this season, Cameron believes her freshman’s outstanding performance over Grand Valley in the win should provide just the right boost for taking on the senior a second time.

“To be honest, it is all mental. Physically all of her tools are there, you just have to make sure that mentally you are up to the challenge,” Cameron said. “We are counting on her.”

On the offensive side, the Huskies got a combined 44 points from senior guards Emma Veach and Sam Hoyt last time against the Lakers.

Consequently, this will put pressure on freshman Kylie Moxley and sophomore Emily Harrison to succeed once again in the post – as they did in the win over Northern Michigan Saturday – with Grand Valley sure to be shifting help towards the senior guard pair.

Moxley struggled mightly in the first matchup with the Lakers before turning in a quiet nine points on five shots the second time around.

But as Moxley showed with 20 points against the Wildcats, she has made a habit of rebounding from poor performances.

“Our post play is just so important,” Cameron said. “And our young kids will have to prove themselves making contested one-on-one layups, and if she can do that, that is when the doubles start coming to open up some shots for our shooters. For us to be successful, we have to have good post play. We have to.”