HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team held off a late charge by Grand Valley State University Thursday night to secure a 77-75 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win in the SDC Gym. The Huskies led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but survived a last second shot that was off target by the Lakers which could have tied the game. The Huskies extended their win streak to four games and swept the regular season series with GVSU by virtue of Thursday's victory.
"For the most part, I'm happy with our performance tonight when we executed our systems," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Credit goes to Grand Valley State because they played hard the whole game and implemented their game plan very well. We got loose a little bit though and as a result of it they made some timely runs to get back into it.
"Bryan [Heath] really gave us a hand tonight and I thought everybody in the absence of Tommy [Lucca] stepped up and played well. Bryan was awesome though, taking the ball to the rim, connecting on his three point shots, and converting at the free throw line. It was a great game for him tonight."
Both offenses had the hot hand early on with Michigan Tech (11-9, 8-5 GLIAC) and Grand Valley State (11-10, 6-7 GLIAC) trading basket for basket in the first four minutes Thursday night. Junior Kyle Monroe drew the Huskies even at 12-12 on a conventional three-point play that also sparked a 9-0 run. Monroe proceeded to fire in back to back triples to give the Huskies their largest lead at that juncture 18-12.
The Lakers countered with the next four points on jumpers by Zach West and Chris Dorsey to draw within two points at 18-16 with 13:04 remaining in the first half. However, the Huskies created eight more points worth of separation during the next four minutes to go up by 10 points at 28-18. Junior Bryan Heath found the target on one of his four three-point baskets to give Tech a double digit lead for the first time with 9:31 on the clock.
Grand Valley State quietly chipped away at Tech's lead and climbed all the way back to within three points with just over one minute to play until the intermission. Hunter Hale drove the lane for a layup and made a free throw for a conventional three-point play following a Tech foul, making it a 40-37 score. Heath bumped the lead back to six at 43-37 on a long range jumper before Chris Dorsey closed the half with a layup for the Lakers, sending the Huskies into the intermission with a 43-39 lead.
Michigan Tech got the inside game rolling early in the second half with four layups by Monroe, senior A.J. Grazulis, and Heath. That success on the inside then opened up the outside game as senior Dillon Gordon capped a strong opening six minutes of the second half with a triple. Gordon's trey created Tech's largest lead of the night at 59-44 with 14:16 to play in the contest.
Unfortunately, the Lakers chopped the gap back down to single digits over the next four plus minutes. Jake Van Tubbergen brought Grand Valley State back to within two possessions at 61-55 on a layup with 9:43 on the second half clock. The Huskies moved back out to a nine-point lead at 75-66 on a conventional three-point play by Heath with just over two minutes left, but the Lakers wouldn't go quietly.
Grand Valley State made things very interesting in the final minute as Hale delivered a triple followed by a Myles Miller layup and free throw which cut Tech's edge to 77-75. The Huskies got the ball back with 35 seconds left, but a three-point attempt by Monroe with the shot clock winding down was blocked by Chris Pearl. West grabbed the rebound and fired the ball up the floor to Miller who drove to the basket. Fortunately, his last second layup trickled off the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded and ended the night with the Huskies securing the two-point win.
Heath guided the Huskies with 23 points by going 7 of 12 from the field, 4 for 7 from behind the arc, and a perfect 5 for 5 at the free throw stripe. Monroe followed with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists while Gordon rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points. Grazulis chipped in eight points and had a team high eight rebounds. Freshman Isaac Appleby tacked on six points and dished out a game high six assists.
As a team, Tech was successful on 26 of 53 shots from the field (49.1%), went 12 of 26 from three-point range (46.2%), and 13 of 19 at the free throw line (68.4%). The Huskies led for over 35 minutes in Thursday's game.
Hale had a double-double for the Lakers thanks to 24 points and 10 rebounds. Van Tubbergen followed with 14 points, Dorsey contributed 13 points, and Miller notched 10 points while dealing out a team best five assists. Grand Valley State made 29 of 63 shot attempts from the field (46.0%), dialed in 7 of 14 chances from three-point land (50.0%), and 10 of 14 opportunities at the free throw line (71.4%). The Lakers had the advantage in rebounding 43-24.
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday when they host Purdue Northwest for another GLIAC battle. The tip-off from the SDC is slated for 3 p.m.