HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team won for the fifth straight time Saturday afternoon on the strength of a 72-46 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Purdue Northwest in the SDC Gym. The two teams combined for just 46 points in the first half, but the Huskies exploded for 49 points in the second half to pull away and create their second five game winning streak of the 2017-18 season.
"It was a good win for our club today and after a slow start played much better in the second half," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I liked how our defense played today, but we have to do a better job of not giving up layups. Overall though, to hold a team to just 46 points is a good effort.
"It was really nice to see Dawson [Bilski] have a big game for us today with 18 points. He is feeling more comfortable and is just going to continue to get better. I'm really happy for Bryan [Heath] reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career. Bryan has been an awesome player here and I hope he gets 2,000 points because he deserves it. He is a good kid and has had two very good games back to back. We need that going forward for the balance of this offense and to help with some of the scoring load."
It was a tale of two halves for Michigan Tech (12-9, 9-5 GLIAC), who fell behind by five points about four and a half minutes into Saturday's game. Kaleb Howard got to the basket for Purdue Northwest (1-21, 1-13 GLIAC) to make it 8-3 on a dunk attempt. The Pride then bumped their advantage to nine points at 17-8 on a layup from Franklin Nunn with 8:46 left in the first half.
The Huskies began to turn things around a few seconds later when freshman Isaac Appleby found freshman Trent Bell open underneath the lid for a layup. Bell's bucket sparked a 12-0 scoring run that enabled Tech to go on top for the first time at 20-17. Junior Kyle Monroe, freshman Dawson Bilski, and sophomore Ryan Schuller all joined Bell in scoring points during the stretch. Schuller's layup with 2:45 to play until halftime capped the scoring burst.
Purdue Northwest came back to regain the lead 23-20 with six straight points. A Torrance Johnson layup with 15 seconds left in the first period accounted for the final two points in the mini run. The Huskies got the ball back for one last chance on offense and they made the most of their opportunity when Bilski hit one of his six triples in the contest to tie the score at 23-23 going into the break.
Both sides traded baskets to begin the second half with a Nunn layup granting the Pride a slim 27-26 lead with 18:25 to go. From there the Huskies began to pick things up a bit, pulling ahead 37-29 thanks to an 11-2 run. A Bryan Heath triple with 14:49 to go gave Tech a good foundation to work with for the rest of the afternoon.
The Pride remained within striking distance until just past the midway point of the second half, but the Huskies would quickly change that. Leading 50-38 with 9:14 to play, Heath drilled a triple and shortly thereafter the Huskies found themselves with a 60-38 cushion following another Bilski three-pointer. Bilski eventually gave the Huskies their largest lead of the day at 72-45 with just under four minutes remaining. Tech ended up outscoring the Pride 22-7 from Heath's basket to Bilski's final field goal of the day.
Monroe led the Huskies with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on his way to his fifth double-double of the 2017-18 campaign. Bilski followed with a career high 18 points and Heath surpassed 1,000 career points with 17 to go along with three rebounds and three assists in the contest. Heath now has 1,003 career points and joins 28 other Tech players in the 1,000-point club.
Tech found the target on 27 of 61 shots from the field (44.3%) overall, but sank 19 of 31 attempts in the second half (61.3%). The Huskies connected on 13 total triples and were 5 of 7 at the charity stripe (71.4%). Rebounds were even at 35 apiece, but Tech tied a school record again for fewest turnovers in a game with three. They accomplished that feat one other time this year against Ashland. Meanwhile, Tech's defense forced 10 Pride turnovers which led to 11 points.
Johnson guided Purdue Northwest with 23 points and eight rebounds followed by Nunn with eight points and six rebounds. As a team, the Pride made 19 of 51 shots from the floor (37.3%), were 1 of 16 from three-point land (6.3%), and 7 of 11 at the free throw line (63.6%).
Michigan Tech will be back on the road next week when the team travels to Saginaw Valley State and Northwood for a pair of GLIAC showdowns. The Huskies will face Saginaw Valley State first on Thursday at 8 p.m. followed by Northwood on Saturday at 3 p.m.