SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell at Lake Superior State 84-73 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest Saturday afternoon. The Huskies battled back from a 22-point second half deficit to close the gap to nine points late in the peiord, but the Lakers hit some key buckets in the final minutes to hold off Tech.
"One of the positives from today's game is that we battled back and kept fighting," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I also thought we were a little more fluid on offense today and our game plan on defense was good as well. We still have some work to do from a mental standpoint and executing our systems well which we were able to do at times today. This is a good team and we'll keep working to get things fixed. If we play like we are capable of we have the ability to compete with any team in the GLIAC."
Michigan Tech (7-9, 4-5 GLIAC) and Lake Superior State (14-3, 8-1 GLIAC) traded buckets during the first few minutes of the first half of Saturday's game. Senior A.J. Grazulis grabbed an offensive rebound and found the bottom of the net on a put back basket to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. The next four points though belonged to the Lakers Akaemji Williams which gave Lake Superior State a 4-2 edge.
Sophomore Tommy Lucca then came down the floor and drilled a triple to put Tech back on top at 5-4. The Lakers eventually went up 11-5 on another layup from Williams, but junior Kyle Monroe delivered back to back triples to knot the score at 11-11 with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. Junior Bryan Heath gave Michigan Tech the edge again at 14-13 on a trey of his own and then extended Tech's lead to three points at 18-15 with 9:10 remaining in the opening half.
The teams exchanged points again over the next two minutes until a 10-0 Laker run netted them a 31-23 lead with 4:33 to play in the first half. Rog Stein created a 35-25 gap which favored the Lakers on a layup at the 2:23 mark and eventually Lake Superior State would carry a 12-point separation of 39-27 into the locker room at halftime.
The Lakers kept creating more distance between themselves and the Huskies throughout the start of the second half. Josh Goldschmidt fired in a three-point basket with 11:41 showing on the clock to give Lake Superior State their biggest advantage of the afternoon at 60-38. However, the Huskies would not go away quietly.
The Huskies chipped away at the deficit one basket at a time over the next few minutes until the gap was down to 11 points at 66-55 following a Monroe three-point play. The Lakers bumped their lead back to 15 points on a couple of occasions until a Lucca trey dropped it down to ten points at 75-65 with 4:03 to go. Just under a minute later, Monroe converted at the free throw line to get Tech within single digits at 75-66. Unfortunately, the Huskies could get no closer than nine by the time the buzzer sounded.
Monroe powered the Tech offense with 20 points and shared the team lead in rebounds with four. Heath produced 12 points and four rebounds followed by Grazulis and Lucca with 10 points apiece. Lucca also grabbed four rebounds and dished out a team high six assists. Freshman Dawson Bilski nearly reached double figures for the second game in a row with nine points.
The Huskies found the mark on 28 of 54 shots from the field (51.9%), were 10 of 26 from three-point range (38.5%), and 7 of 11 at the free throw line (63.6%). Tech out-rebounded Lake Superior State 23-22 in Saturday's contest.
Williams produced a game high 33 points for the Lakers followed by Goldschmidt with 18 points. Williams hauled down six rebounds and defensively created problems for the Tech offense with nine steals. The Lakers were good on 32 of 53 shots from the floor (60.4%), were 6 of 16 from the three-point line (37.5%), and 14 of 19 at the free throw line (73.7%).
Michigan Tech will travel to Wayne State and Davenport next week for two more GLIAC contests. The Huskies will battle the Warriors on Thursday night before meeting the Panthers on Saturday. Thursday's tip-off at Wayne State is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.