BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team had its postseason season run come to an end in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Semifinals Saturday, falling to the No. 2 seed Lake Superior State 70-56. The Huskies, who were the No. 6 seed in this year's tournament, advanced to the GLIAC Final Four for the second year in a row with an 88-74 win Wednesday night at Wayne State.
"I thought Lake Superior State played better than we did today," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I felt like we had a decent first half, but the roles changed in the second. They weren't shooting very well in the first half and got hot in the second half. Our offense cooled off in the final 20 minutes and credit their defense because I thought they did a good job covering up with help on Monroe and getting to the shooters. I'm very proud our guys for getting here to the semifinals, but wish we could have made a little better showing against a good Lake Superior State team."
Lake Superior State (24-6) opened the game with a 9-3 run that was capped by a Tim Cairnduff three-point bucket with 17:50 left on the first half clock. Michigan Tech (15-14) continued to trail by six points at 15-9 with just over 13 minutes to go until the break, but junior Kyle Monroe sparked what turned into a 16-2 scoring run on a triple at the 12:49 mark. Senior Dillon Gordon followed by getting to the rim for a layup and then Monroe gave the Huskies their first lead of the contest at 17-16 with 11:08 on the clock.
The Lakers momentarily tied the game 17-17 on a free throw from Ke'Montrece Collins, but it wouldn't stay deadlocked for long. Gordon recorded another layup to make it 19-17 before six straight points by junior Bryan Heath created Tech's largest advantage of the game. Heath sank two free throws and followed it up with a pair of layups to make it a 25-17 score with just under nine minutes to go until halftime.
The Lakers rallied back to slip in front 30-25 on a Jackson Schrameyer layup followed by two free throws each from Blake Marquardt and Akaemji Williams with 5:47 left in the half. However, the Huskies countered the seven consecutive points to recapture the edge at 32-30. Freshman Trent Bell completed a conventional three-point play with a layup and free throw to vault the Huskies back in front. Four consecutive points by Lake Superior State put Tech behind once again, but Monroe sank another three-point basket with 1:16 left in the half to give the Huskies a 35-34 edge at the intermission.
Senior A.J. Grazulis notched the first points of the second half for Tech to make it 37-34 and from there the Huskies' lead would fluctuate from one to three points during the next few minutes. Heath bumped the score to 44-41 in favor of the Huskies with 13:36 to play, but unfortunately Tech went on a scoring draught for five minutes after that basket.
That opened the door for the Lakers to establish a foothold in the game. During that same span of time Lake Superior State put together a 16-0 scoring burst to establish a double digit lead. Collings notched the final two points in the run to make it a 57-44 score with 8:35 remaining on the clock. The Huskies were unable to recover and trailed by double digits the rest of the way.
Monroe guided the Huskies on offense with 15 points and grabbed a team high nine rebounds in Saturday's semifinal game. Heath followed with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists while Grazulis chipped in seven points and six rebounds. Freshman Isaac Appleby dished out a team best six assists. As a team, the Huskies made 23 of 54 shots from the field (42.6%), were 5 of 19 from three-point range (26.3%), and 5 of 7 at the free throw line (71.4%).
Williams fired in a game high 18 points and nearly reached a double-double thanks to nine assists for the Lakers. Cairnduff dropped in 12 points while Michael Nicholson added seven points and a team high nine rebounds. Lake Superior State found the target on 25 of 62 shots from the field (40.3%), made 7 of 18 attempts from three-point range (38.9%), and converted 13 of 21 chances at the free throw line (61.9%). The Lakers had the advantage in rebounding Saturday 41-34.
The Huskies' season comes to a close after making their 21st appearance in the GLIAC Tournament under Head Coach Kevin Luke. Tech has been to the semifinals 17 times and has three tournament titles during that stretch.