ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team closed the opening weekend of the 2016-17 season on Sunday with a 73-66 loss to UW-Parkside in the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge hosted by Lewis University. The Huskies held the lead in the first half, but UW-Parkside rallied with 45 points in the final 20 minutes to slip past Tech.
"We struggled in today's game both offensively and defensively especially in the second half," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "UW-Parkside went on a big run and we just couldn't slow them down defensively or capitalize on some scoring opportunities ourselves to turn the tide back in our favor. We battled back to within three points late in the second half, but couldn't overtake them. We are looking forward to getting back home this weekend and working on getting better."
Michigan Tech (1-1) grabbed the early lead at 3-2 on a triple by Jason Hawke with 18:31 on the clock. UW-Parkside (1-1) took the initial edge 16 seconds in on a pair of free throws by Kendale McCullum. The teams traded baskets until the Ranges went on an 11-2 run midway through the half to build an 18-9 advantage with 10:21 to go until the break.
However, the Huskies countered with a 16-0 run of their own to vault in front 25-18 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. Hawke delivered a traditional three-point play to get it rolling followed by another layup and free throw by Bryan Heath. Jordan Chartier knocked down a two-point field goal to bring Tech to within one at 18-17 and then Heath dialed in a trey to give the Huskies a 20-18 edge. Heath and Tommy Lucca capped the scoring burst with another three-point bucket and a layup.
Tech held off UW-Parkside for the remainder of the half and by the time the buzzer sounded, the Huskies had created a 10-point gap at 38-28. Heath, who ended the afternoon with a game high 28 points, fired in another triple with 41 seconds on the clock to close the first half scoring.
The Huskies pushed the lead to 40-28 on an A.J. Grazulis layup to start the second half, but the Rangers swung the momentum in their favor with a 21-0 run over the next five minutes to go in front 49-40. The Huskies weren't able to slow down UW-Parkside and struggled to make shots on the offensive end during the stretch.
The Rangers increased their lead to 62-51 with 7:01 to go on a pair of free throws by McCullum, but Tech prevented them from pulling any further ahead. The Huskies then chipped away at the deficit and got to within three points twice in the final three minutes.
Lucca connected on a jumper from behind the arc with 2:08 to play, cutting the Ranger lead to 67-64. Chavares Flanigan countered with a pair of free throws for UW-Parkside on the next possession, but Lucca got back to the line for the Huskies a few seconds later and closed the gap to three again at 69-66. Unfortunately, those would prove to be the final points of the afternoon for Tech. The Rangers iced the game away at the line on a pair of free throws each from Alexander Brown and Jake Verhagen, resulting in the 73-66 final score.
Heath powered the Huskies offense by going 10 for 18 from the field on his way to a game high 28 points. Five of his field goals were launched from behind the arc and in addition to his point production, his shared the team lead in rebounding with eight boards in 31 minutes of time on the floor.
Chartier followed with 12 points, Hawke chipped in eight points and eight rebounds with the addition of two steals and two blocked shots. Lucca wrapped up the contest with seven points and three rebounds. As a team, the Huskies were 24 of 67 from the field (35.8%), 9 of 28 from three-point range (32.1%), and 9 for 9 at the free throw line (100.0%).
McCullum paced the Rangers with 19 points followed by 16 points and seven rebounds from Brown in Sunday's game. Jake Verhagen contributed eight points and seven rebounds while Joe Borcia also notched eight points off the bench. UW-Parkside cashed in on 22 of 50 shot attempts from the field (44.0%), were 11 of 23 from three-point range (47.8%), and 18 of 25 at the free throw line (72.0%). The Rangers also had a 36-33 edge in total rebounds.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Friday when they host Southwest Minnesota State at 7:30 p.m. followed by a showdown with Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday at 6 p.m.