MANISTIQUE - The Escanaba Eskymos matched their regular season win total from last season with a 62-21 rout of Manistique on Wednesday night.
It took the Eskymos (4-4) a few minutes to get their offense on track but once it clicked they never looked back.
Escanaba scored the first 16 points of the game and held Manistique scoreless until the final 35 seconds of the first quarter, when Allie Nagy split a pair from the line to put the Emeralds on the board.
Jon Young | Daily Press
Escanaba’s Lynsey Collins (14) soars in for a lay-up as Manistique’s Breanna Bosanic (24) looks to defend during the second half in Manistique on Wednesday.
Jon Young | Daily Press
Michelle LaFave (54) of Escanaba rips down a defensive rebound over Manistique’s Maggie Morrison (32) during the first half at Manistique on Wednesday night. LaFave snagged 12 rebounds in the win.
Escanaba center Sam Connor responded with a bucket and a foul on the other end. She sunk the free throw to put Esky up 19-1. Escanaba had been averaging over 20 turnovers per contest heading into Wednesday's game but only committed 11 miscues against the Emeralds. Esky head coach Dena Fedell said the improved ball control was key in generating offense.
"I thought that they really worked the ball well tonight," Fedell said. "They didn't throw it away. We've been creating a lot of turnovers for the last couple of games and I think we lessened it by quite a bit tonight. The motivation was going in our direction and after awhile it was kind of hard to stop. I thought they did a really good job of taking care of the ball and looking up and watching for that open player."
On the other end of the ball the Eskymos were creating plenty of turnovers in their two-three zone. The Emeralds coughed up the ball 24 times, including 17 first half turnovers.
Escanaba 19 20 13 10 - 62
Manistique 1 7 4 9 - 21
Escanaba - Levesque, Collins, Cook 4, Gafner 4, Dahlgren 1, Strahl 3, Connor 11, LaFave 19; FT: 12-22; F: 14; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: LaFave 1.
Manistique - Williams 2, Nagy 5, Cook 3, Knuth 5, Bosanic 6; FT: 3-12; F: 16; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Knuth 1, Cook 1.
Fedell said she wasn't sure about throwing the zone out against the Emeralds after their last game against Gladstone, a 51-42 loss.
"You know it's hard to penetrate the paint when you do that zone," she said. "I was anticipating just to see, should we do a man, should we do our zone. The last game we played against Gladstone our zone really didn't stifle them so it's hard. Sometimes you've got to second guess yourself."
The zone worked this time around as Manistique was held to nine first half points. Emeralds head coach Kelley Spettel said the team looked rusty after missing two days of practice and the missed shots early created a snowball effect.
"We were getting all the shots we wanted from the outside we just couldn't put one in the hoop," Spettel said. "We were 2-for-32 the entire first half and you're just not going to win basketball games shooting that poorly.
"That's what happens to a shooter when they're not making their first couple of shots, they lose their confidence and that's just how it goes sometimes. They (Escanaba) weren't missing much down here in the first half and they do have some very good shooters on their team."
The Eskymos got a big boost from Michelle LaFave who poured in a game high 19 points and added 12 boards. Lynsey Collins chipped in a career-high 18 points and Connor added a career-high 11. The clock was running toward the end of the third quarter as Escanaba finished the third with a 52-12 advantage.
Escanaba is back in play on Friday as it hosts Kingsford (4-4). Manistique (2-6) is on the road as the Emeralds travel to Gladstone to take on the Braves (5-3).