HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team held on for a crucial 66-60 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Saginaw Valley Saturday on Senior Day at the SDC Wood Gym. The Huskies were able to sweep the season series with the Cardinals and clinch a spot in the GLIAC Tournament. Tech is currently in second place in the GLIAC North Division standings.
"The first thought that comes to my mind is of the seniors," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We got to play at home on Winter Carnival in front of a nice crowd and I'm really proud of this group of seniors for hanging on and coming through for us in big situations. It was a grind it out game and credit goes to Saginaw; they played hard and were tough. Credit to our defense too because I thought they were really good down the stretch and in the second half in particular."
Saginaw Valley State (15-10, 8-10 GLIAC) struck first on Saturday when C.J. Turnage dropped in a layup in the opening 30 seconds of the contest. Michigan Tech (14-11, 12-6 GLIAC) countered with the next four points thanks to a layup by junior A.J. Grazulis and a jumper from senior Jordan Chartier. The contest seesawed back and forth over the next few minutes and following a free throw by sophomore Bryan Heath, it was deadlocked at 8-8.
The Cardinals collected the next five points on a Garrett Hall triple and a Wade Gelhaus layup generating what would prove to be the largest lead of the afternoon for SVSU at 13-8 with 1:04 remaining in the first half. Tech stayed within two possessions until the offense could get clicking in the final moments of the first half.
Trailing 20-15 with 6:27 on the clock, Heath started a 6-0 run for the Huskies followed by points in the paint from senior Jason Hawke and sophomore Kyle Monroe, resulting in the 21-20 edge with 2:36 left in the first period. Turnage briefly tipped the scales back in Saginaw Valley's favor at 22-21 with 46 second to go before the intermission, but Grazulis would give Tech a lift right before the buzzer on a layup of his own. The bucket sent the Huskies into the locker room with a 23-22 edge through 20 minutes of play.
Turnage briefly put SVSU back on top at 24-23 to start the second half, but a key 9-0 run ensued by the Huskies to swing the balance in their favor. Grazulis banked in another layup to get it going followed by a trey from Heath. Senior Jordan Chartier drove the lane for a layup and two connections at the charity stripe by Monroe gave Tech a 32-24 advantage with 17:40 left in the contest.
However, the Huskies were unable to create any major separation until later in the second half as the Cardinals stayed on their heels through the middle portion of the period. Devin Dixon drew SVSU to within four points at 49-45 with 5:39 left on the second half clock, but Tech came up with a big answer. During the next minute of play, Heath and Monroe teamed up for back to back triples that resulted in a 55-45 for the Huskies with 4:33 to play. The Cardinals were able to climb to within four points again, but that would be as close as they would get. Chartier, Hawke, and freshman Tommy Lucca all came through with some clutch free throws in the final minute to keep SVSU at bay and secure the 66-60 win.
Heath guided the Huskies with 18 points followed by Chartier with 16 points on Saturday. Heath had a trio of three-point buckets while Chartier found the range on two treys' and made good on 5 of 7 attempts from the field overall. Monroe rounded out the double digit scorers with 11 points and secured a team high eight rebounds. Grazulis finished with eight points, Hawke chipped in seven points, and Lucca posted six points while distributing seven assists.
As a team, the Huskies were 23 of 53 from the field (43.4%), fired in 7 of 15 looks from behind the arc (46.7%), and cashed in 13 of 17 opportunities at the free throw line (76.5%). The Tech defense forced 15 SVSU turnovers which led to 19 points on the offensive end of the floor.
The Cardinals had five players in double figures, led by Turnage with 14 points on Saturday. Malik Garner tossed in 12 points, Gelhaus and Dixon contributed 11 points, and Garrett Hall finished with 10 points. Gelhaus and Turnage each had double-doubles with 12 and 11 rebounds respectively. The Cardinals converted 22 of 55 shots from the field (40.0%), were 5 of 20 from three-point range (25.0%), and 11 of 16 at the free throw stripe (68.8%). SVSU out-rebounded Tech 39-30.
The Huskies will be back on the court Thursday night for another GLIAC battle at Grand Valley State University. The tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.