DETROIT, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament semifinals with an 88-74 victory at No. 3 seed Wayne State University Wednesday night. The Huskies have now won all three meetings of the season against the Warriors and punched their ticket to the GLIAC final four for the second straight season.
"We started a new season when the tournament began and we are 1-0," Michigan Tech Head Coach Levin Luke said. "We did what we had to do tonight, our team played really well, and Kyle Monroe had a great game. We did a good job of taking care of the basketball when we had to. It was a fabulous team effort, we hung in there and held our own on the boards and had a solid night at the free throw line.
"Right now when you are playing in the GLIAC tournament all the teams you face are good. I believe we belong in the group of four teams still remaining. I'm proud to be in the final four and now we have to take things one half and one possession at a time. I'm excited for our guys to get a chance to compete this weekend."
Michigan Tech (15-13) set the tone for the game early with a 7-2 scoring run out of the gate. Freshman Dawson Bilski dialed in a triple from the wing after junior Kyle Monroe drew a double team in the post allowing him to fire out a pass to an open Bilski on the perimeter.
Monroe then made it a 5-0 game on a jumper at the 18:31 mark of the first half and created a new Tech single season scoring record, surpassing Ali Haidar's single season point total of 743 set in 2012-13. Monroe would go on to score 45 points in Wednesday night's game and currently has 788 on the season with at least one more game to go. Freshman Isaac Appleby secured the other two points when he drove to the basket for a layup with 17:51 to play in the first half.
Wayne State (15-11) took their only lead at 10-9 with 14:12 remaining in the opening half on a triple by Ronald Booth. The Huskies got back in front on a layup by Monroe on the ensuing possession and never trailed the rest of the night. Tech created a six-point separation at 19-13 on a layup from senior A.J. Grazulis before bumping it up to nine points for the first time at 26-17 on a Monroe jumper.
The Huskies lead grew to as many as 10 points (41-31) late in the first half by way of two free throws from Grazulis with 1:14 on the clock. The Warriors though cut it to seven points at 43-36 right before the end of the half when Karim Murray connected on a layup with 11 seconds to play in the first.
Wayne State also recorded the first bucket of the second half on a jumper by Chuck Key and all of the a sudden the Tech lead was trimmed to 43-38. The Huskies responded with seven of the next nine points and bumped the advantage back to double digits at 50-40. The run culminated with a conventional three-point play by Bilski at the 17:46 mark.
Tech then boosted the lead to 14 points at 56-42 on a trey by Monroe, but the Warriors rallied back to within eight points by the time the clocked ticked down to 11:50. Booth notched two more points in the paint to make it a 56-48 score.
However, an 8-1 run by the Huskies over the next two minutes opened the door for a double digit lead the rest of the night. A Monroe jumper found the bottom of the net with 9:09 to play, resulting in a 64-49 score in favor of the Huskies. Tech's largest lead of the evening (80-61) eventually materialized with just under four minutes to go on two Appleby free throws. The Warriors drew no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Monroe powered the Huskies with a game high 45 points by zeroing in on 18 of 24 shots from the field. He was also 6 for 6 at the free throw line and grabbed four rebounds. It was the fourth time he has fired in 40 or more points in a game this season. Appleby followed with 13 points and six rebounds while Bilski hit some key shots on his way to 11 points in Wednesday's win. Grazulis chipped in eight points and six rebounds while senior Tanner Uren guided the Huskies in rebounds (7) and assists (3).
The Huskies combined to dial in 28 of 48 shots from the field (58.3%), were 6 of 10 from three-point range (60.0%), and 26 of 31 at the free throw line (83.9%). Tech also out-rebounded Wayne State 35 24 and had 13 second chance points thanks to 10 offensive boards.
Booth ended the night as the top scorer for the Warriors with 21 points followed by Chuck Key with 20 points and Marcus Moore with 10 points. Moore also had a team high six rebounds and three assists. The Warriors finished the night converting 27 of 56 on shots from the floor (48.2%), were 3 of 15 from three-point range (20.0%), and 17 of 27 at the free throw line (63.0%).
The Huskies advance to the GLIAC semifinals and will play the No. 2 seed Lake Superior State at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Top seeded Ferris State takes on the No. 4 seed Ashland University in the other semifinal game at 3 p.m. with the winners slated to face each other in the championship game on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Big Rapids.