HOUGHTON - This season has not gone quite the way Kylie Moxley envisioned.
Named the Michigan Tech women's basketball Freshman of the Year last season, Moxley was expected to anchor an offense built around her post play in year two with the Huskies.
For a combination of reasons - extra defensive focus, inconsistent entry passes, foul trouble, etc. - that has not come to pass. Moxley has dominated in spurts, but only reached the 20-point plateau once, the very first game of the season.
Michigan Tech’s Kylie Moxley puts up a shot during the second half of Thursday’s home win over Northwood at the SDC?Gym. Moxley had 22 points on 10-of-16 from the field in the Huskies’ 81-69 victory. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Therefore, it was a performance met with relief Thursday as the 6-foot sophomore bossed Northwood around for 22 points (10-of-16 shooting) and seven rebounds in a comfortable 81-69 victory.
Before Thursday, Moxley had only scored in double digits once in her last five games.
"She was ready to dominate," Tech coach Kim Cameron said. "The post play in our offense is so important. And when we are doing well inside we need to continue to go to that. When she is drawing attention from other people that is how our offense moves.
"I hope this is the beginning of more to come," Cameron added.
After a 9-0 run to end the half gave the Huskies a 36-28 lead at intermission, Moxley came back for the second period imposing her will on the T'Wolves' post players.
The sophomore started the half with a classic drop-step layup, then passed out of consecutive double teams to find Dani Blake and (through a full team ball reversal), MacKenzie Perttu for open jump shots.
The next time down the court Paige Albi returned the favor, dishing to Moxley under the rim for an and-one layup (her third for the game).
At the end of the run, Tech led 50-37 and the lead stayed in double digits the rest of the game.
"I had a little downfall there (midseason) but I feel like I came back with my confidence today and was ready to go," Moxley said.
"Credit to my guards, they got me the ball whenever I called for it."
It was a display Black and Gold fans became accustomed to for much of her freshman season.
Moxley goes with her power moves first, and then sets up counters back to the middle when defenders start overplaying her right hand.
"She is very aware of her body," Blake said. "She can power through you, but also spin back middle. She is really hard to stop when she gets it low."
Tech's offense just runs crisper when the ball touches Moxley's hand.
Defenders cannot leave her alone, opening driving lanes for Perttu (23 points), Blake (14 points) and Paige Albi (13 points).
The Huskies were fully committed to getting to the rim Thursday night after attempting 10 free throws in the loss to Saginaw Valley while misfiring on 16-of-19 three-point attempts.
The ratio reversed against Northwood as Tech attempted just 11 threes (making four) and earned 20 free throws.
"In the couple games we dropped last week our post didn't have much of a presence and that really hurt us," Blake said. "We've been focusing on post play a lot, just trying to feed her the ball. She really worked hard tonight."
With Moxley imposing on offense, Blake made her presence felt on defense against her hometown team.
Born in Midland, the sophomore guard grew up watching Northwood games and said she was recruited to play there from her very first day as a high school freshman.
Blake played with an extra edge Thursday, grabbing 11 rebounds for a double-double in just 26 minutes of play.
"She is becoming such a better basketball player overall," Cameron said. "She is doing better realizing when she needs to score and when she needs to help in other ways."
"It is just that extra little edge," Blake added. "I'm from there, I grew up watching them, so I just want to do my best and my team to do our best because I know they are a great team. I just want to beat them."