BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest on the road Thursday night against 7th ranked Ferris State 85-66. The Huskies fell behind by double digits early, but battled back to within four points late in the first half to stay with striking distance. Unfortunately, a late push at the end of the half and a fast start in the second frame by the Bulldogs put the game out of reach.
"We got down big early, but one of the biggest things that we learned is that our systems can help us when we execute them properly," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Our systems got us back into the game and we were able to gain a little more confidence in the first half. However, we gave up too may points in transition and turned the ball over too often which we can't do.
"Ferris State is a great team and even though this isn't a moral victory, I feel better about our team and where we are today than last Saturday. Our goal on Saturday when we play Lake Superior State is to build on what we did good tonight and not hurt ourselves with turnovers and mistakes. There is a good team in our locker room and we'll get it and keeping working hard."
Ferris State (17-1, 7-1 GLIAC) got the upper hand by two possessions in the first 90 seconds of the contest Thursday night. Noah King knocked down a pair of triples to get the Bulldogs offense rolling and make it a 6-0 score. Senior Tanner Uren and sophomore Ryan Schuller put Michigan Tech (7-8, 4-4 GLIAC) on the board with a pair of buckets to pull the Huskies to within four at 8-4 at the 17:23 mark of the first half.
However, nine straight points by Ferris State during the ensuing three minutes widened the gap to 17-4 with 14:35 on the first half clock. The Huskies continued to trail by double digits until freshman Dawson Bilski tallied three of his team high 11 points, making it a 21-13 contest with just under nine minutes to go until the break.
At the 4:48 mark of the first half, DeShaun Thrower put the Bulldogs up by 11 points again at 31-20 on a layup, but Tech would reel off the next seven points to climb to with four points. Schuller worked his way into the paint for a layup followed by a triple from junior Bryan Heath. Schuller then capped the scoring burst with an additional layup to make it a 31-27 score with 2:47 showing on the first half clock.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs began to swing the momentum back into their favor with the final five points of the half. A Drew Cushingberry layup and triple sent Ferris State to the locker room with a 36-27 advantage at the intermission.
The start of the second half for Ferris State was a carbon copy of how the game began with King dialing in a pair of three-point shots to make it 42-29. The second triple came after a layup by Tech sophomore Tommy Lucca. King's baskets sparked what would be a 14-2 run by the Bulldogs in the early stages of the second half and it kept the Huskies at bay the rest of the night.
Bilski powered the Huskies off the bench with a season and career high 11 points on the strength of a 4 for 6 shooting night from the field. Three of his four baskets were outside the three-point arc. Freshman Trent Bell went 4 of 5 from the floor and followed Bilski with 10 points and five rebounds. Lucca finished the game with eight points and seven assists while senior A.J. Grazulis and Heath chipped in eight points as well.
The Huskies finished the night converting 27 of 53 shots from the field (50.9%), they were 7 of 16 from outside the three-point arc (43.8%), and 5 of 7 at the free throw line (71.4%). Tech also out-rebounded the Bulldogs 35-25.
Ferris State had four players in double figures, led by Zach Hankins with 14 points and five rebounds. Thrower tossed in 13 points off the bench while King and Markese Mayfield each contributed 12 points on the night. Cushingberry tacked on nine points and dished out six assists. The Bulldogs were successful on 32 of 64 shots from the field (50.0%), were 11 of 20 from three-point range (55.0%), and 10 of 13 at the free throw line (76.9%). The Ferris State defense also forced 20 turnovers which led to 23 points.
Michigan Tech will travel to Lake Superior State on Saturday afternoon for another GLIAC contest at 3 p.m. The Lakers topped Northern Michigan at home Thursday night 78-60.