HOUGHTON - Two stretches stood out predominantly in the Michigan Tech women's basketball's 77-56 win over Wayne State Thursday.
First, after giving up 21 points in the opening 10 minutes of the contest to trail by six, the Huskies rediscovered their Ferris State-level swagger defensively and held the Warriors to just six for the rest of the period to seize a nine-point lead at halftime.
Then, determined to bury Wayne once and for all, Tech came out 'NBA Jam' on-fire for the start of the second half, scoring on its first seven possessions to quickly take a 19-point lead and slam the door for good on Wayne.
Michigan Tech’s Mackenzie Perttu collects a rebound during Thursday’s game against Wayne State at the SDC?Gym. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Just for good measure, the Huskies held the Warriors to 10 offensive rebounds - and just two in the first half - with Wayne averaging over 20 offensive boards per contest entering the night. Combined with a Ferris State loss to Northwood, the Huskies moved into a three-way tie with Grand Valley State and the Bulldogs atop the GLIAC North Division.
Early season bumps, lineup changes and a five-game team-wide shooting slump all look better in the light of such an impressive performance.
"Just a great team win, that was awesome," Tech senior point Sam Hoyt, who finished with 19 points on 12 shots, said. "I really knew we needed this win bad, so I just got intense - we all did. The bench played well, the freshmen played well. An awesome win."
Wayne State (9-5, 7-3 GLIAC)
Talisha Bridges 6-18 0-2 12; Stephanie Lock 0-1 0-0 0; Juanita Cochran 5-8 4-8 14; Lena Thomas 0-2 0-0 0; Brittany Streetman 2-5 0-0 6; Phaebre Colbert 3-7 3-4 9; Deanna Crumpton 0-1 0-0 0; Kristen Long 0-3 0-0 0; Imari Redfield 0-1 2-2 2; Madison Stoyka 0-0 0-0 0; Kayla Bridges 5-5 3-4 13; Chloe Srebernak 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 21-51 12-20 56.
Michigan Tech (10-5, 8-3 GLIAC)
Jillian Ritchie 1-3 2-2 5; Kylie Moxley 4-7 1-2 9; Emma Veach 4-6 0-0 9; Sam Hoyt 7-12 4-4 19; Mackenzie Perttu 8-17 2-2 20; Michelle Gaedke 0-1 0-0 0; Kerry Gardner 0-0 0-0 0; Kelcey Traynoff 2-2 0-0 6; Danielle Blake 0-4 2-2 2; Paige Albi 1-1 1-2 4; Emily Harrison 1-2 0-0 2; Heather Kessler 0-0 0-0 0; Taylor Stippel 0-1 1-2 1; Totals 28-56 13-16 77.
Halftime score: Tech 36, WSU 27
3-point goals - WSU 2-7 (T. Bridges 0-1, Lock 0-1, Streetman 2-5), Tech 8-16 (Ritchie 1-2, Veach 1-3, Hoyt 1-3, Perttu 2-5, Traynoff 2-2, Albi 1-1); Rebounds - WSU 27 (Cochran 12), Tech 38 (Perttu 13); Assists - WSU 10 (T. Bridges 3), Tech 10 (Perttu 4); Fouled out - none; Total fouls - WSU 16, Tech 15; Technical fouls - none. Attendance - 1,197.
After shooting 40 percent or below for five consecutive games, Tech came out attacking the rim, determined not to let the whims of three-point shooting dictate the night.
Hoyt and freshman (now starter) MacKenzie Perttu set the tone, repeatedly beating the Wayne press and finding room to shoot in the lane. Perttu finished with a career-high 20 points, hitting six layups to go with a pair of threes.
Tech, which had been averaging 20 three-point attempts per game entering Thursday, put up just six in the first half.
"We thought they were going to be pressuring so we knew we had to attack and get inside the paint," Hoyt said. "Attack and kick, but their sink wasn't there a lot so it became attack and finish if they didn't help over."
"Sam stood out to me," Tech coach Kim Cameron added. "You could see it in the first half the way she was taking the ball to the basket, the way she kept attacking her defender. to me she really stood out as the leader we need."
The outside shots started to fall in the second half, with six different Huskies connecting from deep to go 8-of-16 overall from three.
Tech shot 50 percent for the game.
"I knew it was coming. We had to. We practice all the time, we shoot all the time. I knew it had to go in," Hoyt said.
Following Hoyt's lead, Perttu's overall energy gave the team a boost as the true freshman also grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, four of them on the offensive end.
During the crucial second-half run that put the Warriors down permanently, Perttu scored the second half's first four points and snagged two offensive boards.
"I knew I had to prove myself that I could handle big games, so I just went for every rebound I could," Perttu said. "I was just trying to stay aggressive and do the little things to help the team out."
Now the Huskies enter Saturday's bout with Saginaw Valley with their destiny firmly in their hands.
"We are only going to get better from here," Hoyt said.