ASHLAND, Ohio – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team recovered from a slow start and eventually rallied from a 13-point deficit to secure an 80-71 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory Thursday night at Ashland University. The Huskies trailed 34-21 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half, but outscored the Eagles 42-26 in the final 20 minutes to grab a key conference road win.
"To our guys credit we got it together after a sluggish start and executed our game plan to pull out the win tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We really played hard and I thought our defense was much better in the second half. Our system defensively is setup to not give up a lot of layups, but we gave up too many layups in the first half. We did a much better job shutting off the lanes to the basket in the final 20 minutes. We are going to see a very similar team in Tiffin on Saturday that is very athletic and can get up and go and drive to the basket. We'll have to be strong defensively and be ready to go for 40 minutes."
Michigan Tech (6-7, 4-2 GLIAC) was forced to play catchup at the outset on Thursday when Ashland (7-6, 2-5 GLIAC) burst out of the gate with a 9-0 run. Adrian Cook found the mark on a jumper and then three layups and a free throw by Ben Haraway accounted for the other seven points with 17:23 on the first half clock.
Just over two minutes later, the Huskies closed the gap down to 14-10 on a triple by sophomore Kyle Monroe, but the Eagles would counter on a trey of their own by Nick Bapst. Ashland went up by double digits for the first time at 23-11 when Phil Frentsos hit back to back three-pointers with 12:43 remaining in the first half. The Eagles then constructed their largest advantage of the night at 34-21 when Cook banked in another layup with 8:22 left in the first half.
Tech kept things from getting out of hand with five straight points thanks to a jumper from senior Jordan Chartier and a 3-point field goal from Monroe to slice the deficit to 34-26 with 6:23 on the first half clock. With just under two minutes to play in the first, Chartier connected again on a layup and suddenly the Huskies were down by just three points at 41-38. However, a pair of field goals by Haraway produced the final four points in the first half and sent the Eagles to the locker room with a 45-38 lead.
The Michigan Tech defense buckled down in the second half, enabling the offense to chip away at the deficit in the first 6:33 of the final frame. Junior Tanner Uren, who had a solid game off the bench Thursday night, knotted the score at 54-54 with 13:27 left in the game. The Huskies grabbed their first lead of the contest 56-55 at the 10:38 mark when freshman Tommy Lucca found the bottom of the net on a jumper. The Eagles would take the edge back momentarily on a Cook jumper a few seconds later, but with 9:51 to play, Chartier gave Tech the lead for good on a triple.
Ashland would stay on Tech's heels until a late 10-2 run put the game away. Leading 64-61 with 6:30 to go, the Huskies got a pair of free throws by sophomore Bryan Heath to kick start the scoring run. Heath added two more points on a jumper, Uren made a pair of layups and Monroe capped it with a put back off an offensive rebound to make it 74-63. The Huskies held off the Eagles in the final minute with solid free throw shooting to secure the 80-71 win.
Lucca led all scorers with a game high 24 points for the Huskies in Thursday night's victory. He was 5 of 9 from behind the three-point arc and dealt out seven assists. Monroe posted 16 points, seven rebounds, and three steals followed by Heath with 15 points and Chartier with 12 points, five assists, and seven rebounds. Uren ended the contest with six points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
As a team, the Huskies ended the evening knocking down 28 of 58 shots from the field (48.3%), were 10 for 23 from three-point range (43.5%), and 14 of 17 at the charity stripe (82.4%). Tech out-rebounded Ashland 31-29, accumulated 17 assists and forced 14 turnovers which led to 19 points. Meanwhile, Tech committed only seven miscues and leads the GLIAC in fewest turnovers per game (8.5). The Huskies had 28 of their points scored inside the paint.
Haraway and Osborne each had 16 points to power the Eagles offense in Thursday's game. Frentsos chipped in 10 points off the bench and Marsalis Hamilton had a team high seven rebounds. The Eagles finished the night 24 of 48 from the field (50.0%), were 9 of 24 from three-point land (37.5%), and 14 of 20 at the free throw line (70.0%).
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Tiffin for another GLIAC contest. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.