MOORHEAD, Minn. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell in game one of the Microtel Classic Friday night to 15th ranked Southwest Minnesota State 65-52. The Huskies held the advantage for the majority of the first half and into the second, but a 16-2 run by the Mustangs over a span of six minutes midway through the second half turned the tide of the game.
"I thought we were average in the first half and in the second half we really struggled," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We got exposed in every facet of the game, offense, defense, rebounding, and they out toughed us. Hopefully we can learn from tonight's game and get ready to play against another really good team in Minnesota State Moorhead tomorrow."
Michigan Tech (2-1) delivered the first points of the night when junior Kyle Monroe drove to the basket for a layup in the opening 25 seconds. Southwest Minnesota State (2-2) countered with a couple of free throws after Carter Kirk made his way to the line following a Tech foul. Kirk cashed in on both looks at the charity stripe to tie the score at 2-2 with 19:19 on the clock.
The Huskies then countered with a 7-0 scoring run that would put them in front for the rest of the half. Senior A.J. Grazulis tossed in a layup off an assist by senior Tanner Uren and then Uren drilled a triple to create a 7-2 gap. Uren went ahead a finished off the run when he came up with steal and drove to the other end of the floor for a jumper to make it 9-2 with 17:29 left in the first.
The Mustangs closed the gap back to two points at 13-11 on a jumper from Taylor Schafer and from there the Huskies lead would fluctuate from one to two possessions during the next few minutes. Leading 22-18 with just over nine minutes to go until the break, Tech created its largest lead of the half at 27-19 on a three-point bucket by freshman Isaac Appleby and a jumper in the paint from sophomore Ryan Schuller.
Unfortunately, the Huskies couldn't pull away further as the Mustangs stayed close with some crucial buckets going into the break. Southwest Minnesota State pulled to within four points at 37-33 on a field goal by Nick Dufault with 35 second showing on the clock.
Michigan Tech bumped the lead back up to five points twice in the second half, including at the 12:33 mark when Uren found the target on a layup after securing an offensive rebound. The two-point bucket gave the Huskies a 46-41 edge at that juncture of the contest.
Momentum then swung in the Mustangs favor when Ryan Bruggeman began the scoring run on a layup in the paint. Lee followed with another layup and then gave SMSU the lead at 48-46 on a triple with 11:21 to play. By the end of the scoring burst, the Mustangs had constructed a 57-48 edge on a Bruggeman three-pointer with 7:17 to go. The Mustangs didn't allow the Huskies to make a counter attack before closing out the night.
Michigan Tech had three players in double figures, led by Heath with 13 points followed by Appleby and Monroe with 10 points each. Uren chipped in seven points and he along with Monroe grabbed a team best five rebounds. Grazulis nearly reached double digits with eight points. As a team, the Huskies were 23 of 52 from the field (44.2%), 4 of 16 from behind the arc (25.0%), and 2 of 4 at the free throw line (50.0%).
Bruggeman guided the Mustangs with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, and five steals. Schafer tossed in 13 points off the bench and Dufault tacked on 11 points. Kirk and Turner Moen shared the team lead in rebounds with seven.
The Huskies will be back on the court Saturday when they take on Minnesota State Moorhead on day two of the Microtel Classic. The tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. EST.