HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team rallied to overtake Wayne State 81-78 in overtime for a key Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory Thursday night in the SDC Gym. It was the third straight overtime game for the Huskies and fourth in their last five contests. The win keeps Tech in the running for a home game in the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinals coming up on Wednesday.
"Number one we beat a great club," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Wayne State is very well coached, very disciplined, they play hard, are athletic, and rebound the ball well so I feel very fortunate to get this win. It's big because we won our first game of the year in overtime and it should inject some confidence in our team that we can get it done. I'm really happy for our guys that they were able to secure this win.
"Clearly Wayne State is one of the toughest teams in the conference and to come back and get a win will be a big confidence boost for us. We've had some tough Saturday's recently getting off to slow starts and hopefully this week we'll be able to use some momentum from tonight and get out of the gate stronger against Davenport."
Michigan Tech (14-12, 11-8 GLIAC) scored six quick points in the first 90 seconds to go up on Wayne State (14-10, 12-7 GLIAC) with 18:38 on the clock. Freshman Dawson Bilski put the Huskies on the board with a triple followed by a trey from junior Bryan Heath. The Warriors briefly tied the game at 8-8 on two free throws by Chuck Key, but sophomore Ryan Schuller dropped in a layup to make it 10-8 Tech with just over 15 minutes to go in the first half.
The Warriors then proceeded to go on an 8-0 run which produced the largest lead for any team at that point 16-10. The Huskies then stormed back with seven unanswered to reclaim a 17-16 edge. Junior Kyle Monroe got the run rolling in a layup followed by two points in the paint courtesy of Heath. Senior Tanner Uren then found the target from behind the arc to cap the scoring burst with 7:36 to play in the first half.
However, Ronald Booth connected on a jumper a few seconds later and followed it up with a triple to give the Warriors a 21-17 lead. Wayne State remained in front for the rest of half and led 29-21 with just over two minutes to go until the break. Tech was able to slice the deficit down to five points at 31-26 on a Monroe layup in the final minute of the opening half.
The Huskies had to play catchup for the majority of the second half, falling behind by as many as nine points at 48-39 following a Nick Mutebi layup with just over 13 minutes to go. Tech stayed within striking distance of Wayne State, never letting the Warriors put the game out of reach.
Trailing 61-53 with 5:45 to play in the second half, the Huskies began to make their charge which eventually tied it up. The Huskies outscored the Warriors 12-4 down the stretch and with 43 seconds to play, senior A.J. Grazulis had a game tying tip-in to make it a 65-65 score. Senior Dillon Gordon got the run started with a clutch triple at the 4:27 mark with Monroe and Grazulis firing in additional crucial points. On the final shot of regulation, the Huskies' defense came up with a big stop when freshman Isaac Appleby prevented a layup by Key from finding the bottom of the net at the buzzer.
The Huskies struck for the first five points in overtime on a pair of free throws and three-point basket by Monroe. Although Tech would never trail in the extra frame, Wayne State stayed right on their heels. The Warriors chopped the Huskies lead down to one point three times, but each time the Huskies were able to come up with key baskets or free throws. A pair of successful attempts at the charity stripe by Heath with three seconds to go helped seal the 81-78 win.
Monroe powered the Huskies with 29 points and five assists followed by Grazulis who poured in a career high 19 points while grabbing seven rebounds. His previous career best point total was 16 which he reached twice, including in last season's regular season finale against Northern Michigan. Heath closed the night with 11 points and Bilski chipped in six points with a team high eight rebounds.
As a team, Michigan Tech was on target with 27 of 59 shots from the field (45.8%), were 8 of 21 from three-point range (38.1%), and 19 of 26 at the free throw line (73.1%). The Huskies out-rebounded Wayne State 38-28, including 15 boards on the offensive end of the floor which led to 13 second chance points.
Booth guided the Warriors with 24 points followed by Key and Marcus Moore with 18 points apiece. Moore and George Spencer shared the team lead in rebounds with eight while Booth and Latin Davis both distributed three assists. Wayne State found the bottom of the net on 30 of 58 shots from the field (51.7%), were 3 of 6 from three-point range (50.0%), and 15 of 23 at the free throw line (65.2%).
The Huskies will wrap up the 2017-18 regular season on Saturday when they host Davenport University on Senior Day in the SDC Gym. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.