HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team lost a hard fought Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle in overtime to Lake Superior State Saturday afternoon 80-76. It's the second straight contest the Huskies have gone to overtime and third in the last four games that have advanced to an extra frame.
"I thought we made a great effort to fight back and send it to overtime after we got behind early," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We didn't look like ourselves in the first half and struggled to execute and defend. If we don't execute our systems we aren't the team we should be, but you can see when we do we have a chance. There is a good team here if we do things right. We have good players and systems, but we have to execute them better and longer in these upcoming games down the stretch."
Michigan Tech (13-12, 10-8 GLIAC) and Lake Superior State (20-6, 14-4 GLIAC) traded baskets at the outset Saturday afternoon. The Lakers built a 6-3 edge in the first four minutes before junior Kyle Monroe navigated his way to the rim for a layup to draw the Huskies to within one point at 6-5. However, Lake Superior State went on an 11-0 scoring run right after that to build a 17-5 lead. Malek Adams capped the run with a conventional three-point play with 10:45 to go in the first half.
The Lakers eventually went up 27-10 on a layup from Josh Goldschmidt at the 7:00 minute mark before the Huskies responded with a 10-2 scoring burst of their own to draw within nine points at 29-20. Freshman Isaac Appleby found senior A.J. Grazulis in the paint for a layup and with the addition of a Laker foul, Grazulis was able to sink a free throw with 4:32 left until the break. Unfortunately, the Lakers were able to push the gap back to double digits before the buzzer sounded. Ke'Montrece Collins converted two free throws in the final seconds to give Lake Superior State a 36-22 lead at halftime.
The Huskies launched out of the gate strong to start the second half and thanks to an 8-0 run were back within two possessions of tying the game. Monroe and Grazulis provided the scoring, cutting the deficit to 36-30 with 15:50 showing on the clock. Tech stayed within single digits and got to within four points at 46-42 on a pair of free throws courtesy of junior Bryan Heath with 9:20 to go.
The Lakers then reeled off the next seven points to increase their lead to 53-52 on a three-point play by Michael Nicholson, but then the Huskies charged right back with a 9-0 run. A triple from Appleby with just under five minutes to play in the second made it a 53-51 score. The largest lead for Lake Superior State from that moment on was just four points as the teams exchanged points down the stretch. Trailing 62-60 with nine seconds remaining, the Huskies were finally able to pull even when Monroe sank to clutch free throws to tie the game 62-62 and send it into overtime.
Michigan Tech took an early 66-64 lead in the extra frame on the strength of a layup by Monroe and two Grazulis free throws. However, Lake Superior State countered with a 7-0 run to get the upper hand at 71-66 with 2:21 left on the clock. Even though the Huskies would keep it close, the Lakers managed to stay in front until the final buzzer.
Two Tech players had double-doubles on Saturday afternoon, led by Monroe with 34 points and 10 rebounds. Monroe also had a double-double Thursday night and it's the eighth time he has recorded at least 10 rebounds and double digit point totals in a game this year. Grazulis matched a season high 13 points and Appleby tossed in 11 points with a career high 12 rebounds. Freshman Dawson Bilski led the Huskies with three assists and three steals while contributing seven points and five rebounds.
As a team, the Huskies were on target with 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9%), were 9 of 23 behind the three-point arc (39.1%), and 17 of 23 at the free throw line (73.9%). Tech out-rebounded Lake Superior State 43-38 and recorded 14 second chance points off of eight offensive rebounds.
Akaemji Williams powered the Lakers with 17 points and 10 assists and was followed by a trio of players with 14 points each. Tim Cairnduff, Goldschmidt, and Collins each reached that point total on Saturday. Nicholson chipped in eight points and grabbed a team high 12 rebounds. Lake Superior State connected on 28 of 68 shots from the field (41.2%), were 11 of 26 from three-point land (42.3%), and 13 of 19 at the charity stripe (68.4%).
The Huskies will close the regular season at home next week when they host Wayne State on Thursday night and Davenport on Saturday afternoon. Thursday's showdown with the Warriors is slated for 7:30 p.m.