Hoyt leads Huskies into GLIAC semifinal

HOUGHTON – In the final home game of her outstanding career, Michigan Tech women’s basketball guard Sam Hoyt treated the Black and Gold faithful at the SDC Wednesday night to a vintage performance.

After the Huskies rushed to a 30-13 lead over Grand Valley State in the first 15 minutes of the GLIAC quarterfinals, the Lakers made several pushes in the second half – twice cutting the lead to 10 points in the span of six minutes – but each time Hoyt was there to answer with a bucket or an assist to comfortably push Tech back in control.

The senior poured in 20 points (on 6-of-10 shooting) with a trio of three-pointers, five rebounds, four assists and three steals as Tech finished Grand Valley’s season with a 71-56 final.

“That was awesome. I think she wanted to make sure everybody had a good memory of her for her last game at home,” Tech coach Kim Cameron said. “She was her old self with a few flashy shots and hitting some big ones in crunch time when they were making a run at us.”

“I’m trying not to think about that right now,” Hoyt said of her last home game as Tech heads to Ashland for the semifinals against the host Eagles. “It is bittersweet, but I am just thinking about the playoffs and how I am ready to go.”

Spending much of the first half feeding Kylie Moxley (16 points) and Jillian Ritchie (career-high 18 points), Hoyt took over down the stretch with 15 points over a 13-minute span as the contest was still in doubt in the second half.

Each time the Lakers made a push, Hoyt hit back, finally burying Grand Valley for good with a nifty floater to push the lead to 17 points with less than five minutes to play.

“Especially for as young as we are, you can see when the younger kids tensed up and she just didn’t. She just eased everyone,” Cameron said.

“You can kind of feel when the other team is beginning to make a run and the best way to shut that down is to get a score,” Hoyt added.

Grand Valley spent the entire contest playing catch-up thanks to a scintillating start from the Huskies.

Moxley went to work down low with six of the team’s eight initial points and Ritchie splashed two threes in the first half and reached the free throw line six times.

Even more impressive, Ritchie spent the majority of the first half guarding Lakers star Briauna Taylor after freshman Danielle Blake exited with foul trouble and led Tech with nine rebounds.

“Jillian was a difference maker tonight. She was awesome on all ends of the floor,” Cameron said. “But offensively it is such a relief for everyone when she is looking to score. She was hitting jumpers, getting to the basket. She really took it upon herself to take on a bigger role.”

Before the game, Cameron keyed Taylor as priority one, two and three. Limit her and the chance of victory increases exponentially.

Taylor finished with nine points on 3-of-17 shooting in her final career game.

“That is one of the top players in the league and for us to be able to do that is incredible,” Cameron said. “That takes a lot of pride.”