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Huskies Prevail against Walsh in GLIAC Opener

HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team tipped-off the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference portion of the 2016-17 schedule with an impressive 92-89 win at home over Walsh University. The Huskies had never beaten the Cavaliers, who were averaging just over 92 points per game coming into the weekend.

"Our goal wasn't to slow the game down, we just wanted to execute," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Every game is going to be a little bit different and in this process I don't think we can incorporate the thought of outscoring all of our opponents, but there are nights when you have to when they are really good. I thought our defense was fairly solid and I thought our offense was just a little bit better tonight. In the first half we needed all the points we could get against a high powered offense like Walsh. The biggest thing we can learn out of this is if we execute our systems we have a chance in any game."

Michigan Tech (3-4, 1-0 GLIAC) exploded out the of gate on an 11-2 run to set the tone for the afternoon. As it turned out, they would need every one of their season high 92 points. Junior forward A.J. Grazulis got things rolling for the Huskies on a layup at the 19:08 mark of the first half. Zac Carter, who is averaging over 22 points per game for Walsh (6-1, 1-1 GLIAC), knotted the score at 2-2 with 18:42 on the clock. It would be the first of five tied scores during the 40-minute contest on Saturday.

Tech then reeled off nine straight points to go up 11-2 and cap the initial scoring burst. Freshman guard Tommy Lucca sank a triple to make it a 5-2 score followed by layups from sophomore forward Kyle Monroe and sophomore guard Bryan Heath. The two points by Monroe would be the first in what turned into a career high 39 points once the final buzzer sounded.

Monroe bumped the Huskies lead to 14-4 with 15:37 remaining in the first half on a triple, marking the first double digit gap of the contest. The Cavaliers stayed on Tech's heels when Carter answered Monroe's trey with one of his own and proceeded to stay within single digits until the midway point of the first half. With 10:33 remaining on the first half clock, a conventional three-point play by Monroe bumped the Huskies advantage out to 28-17.

The Huskies generated their largest lead of the first half with just over two minutes to play until the break as senior guard Jordan Chartier filled up the basket from behind the arc to make it a 52-36 score. Carter chopped it back down to 12 points at 57-45 on a layup with 43 seconds left in the half, but Monroe dialed in another triple a few seconds later to make it 60-45 as both teams headed into the locker room. Monroe closed the first 20 minutes with 29 points and Tech came within striking distance of a school record for most points in a half. The current record of 69 points was set against Northwood on February 4th 1993.

The Huskies engineered their largest lead of the night at the 17:11 mark of the second half, 72-53, on a three-point bucket courtesy of Chartier. However, the Cavaliers would not go quietly and slowly but surely inched their way closer as time ticked off the clock. Walsh never owned the lead on Saturday afternoon, but they rallied to tie the game four times during the final 20 minutes.

With 5:07 left, Trey Fletcher tossed in a jump shot to deadlock the score at 81-81, but each time the Cavaliers came up with key points, the Huskies answered. Grazulis countered the Fletcher bucket with a layup to give Tech the edge again at 83-81 after he grabbed a big offensive rebound. Fletcher tied the game again on two free throws, but Grazulis converted at the charity stripe followed by a layup from Lucca to give the Huskies an 86-84 edge with 2:39 left.

The game remained in the balance down to the wire, but another clutch layup by Grazulis and timely free throw shooting kept the Huskies a step ahead. Leading 88-87 with 26 seconds to go, Heath knocked down two shots at the line for a 90-87 Tech lead. Chandler Vaudrin picked up a quick two points for the Cavaliers on a layup at the 15 second mark before Monroe extended the lead back to three at 92-89 on a trip to the free throw line. Walsh got the ball back one more time, but Fletcher's three point try from the left wing was off the mark as time expired, giving the Huskies the 92-89 win.

Michigan Tech was powered by Monroe, who poured in a career best 39 points on 14 of 22 shooting from the field. He was 6 of 10 from behind the arc and 5 for 6 at the free throw line. Monroe's previous career high was 35 points set at home against Ferris State on February 4th 2016. In addition to his point totals, Monroe grabbed a team high six rebounds and dished out three assists.

Four other Huskies had double digit point totals in the stat sheet for Tech on Saturday. Heath posted 13 points with four assists, Chartier contributed 12 points, Grazulis added 11 points and six rebounds while Lucca chipped in 11 points and dealt out a team high six assists. Senior forward Jason Hawke recorded six points and three rebounds for Tech in the victory.

As a team, the Huskies were 33 of 56 from the field (58.9%), 13 for 28 from three-point range (46.4%), and 13 of 17 at the charity stripe (76.5%). The Huskies caused 11 Walsh miscues which turned into 18 points and 32 points for Tech were scored in the paint.

Fletcher produced a team high 21 points and eight rebounds for Walsh followed by Carter with 20 points and a team best four assists. Jameel Moore added 17 points off the bench and Chandler Vaudrin had 12 points for the Cavaliers Saturday. As a team, the Cavaliers were 31 of 56 from the field (55.4%), 14 of 27 from behind the arc (51.9%), and 13 for 17 (76.5%) at the free throw line. Walsh had a slight edge in the rebounding department 29-24.

The Huskies will be back on the floor Thursday night for a GLIAC showdown at Lake Erie followed by another conference contest on Saturday at Ohio Dominican. Thursday's tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday's game is scheduled for 3 p.m.