HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team began the 2018-19 season Saturday in Marquette, falling in a non-conference showdown to a good Lewis University team 74-53. The Huskies stayed on the heels of the Flyers until late in the first half when they pulled away and created some separation.
"Lewis is a really good club and their athleticism and experience made the difference in today's game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We had a hard time getting into a rhythm on offense which hurt us this afternoon. I thought we did a decent job getting the ball inside, but we have to keep working on it and building our confidence. We have to rest up tonight and get ready to face another good GLVC team tomorrow in McKendree."
Lewis (1-0) generated the first basket of the contest after a two-minute draught on offense by both teams at the outset. Kendale McCullum worked his way inside for a layup to make it a 2-0 score at the 18:03 mark of the first half. Freshman Jake Witt quickly countered with his first career field goal for Michigan Tech (0-1), tying the score at 2-2.
The Flyers would notch the next four points to go on top 6-2, but sophomore Dawson Bilski drained a triple which brought the Huskies with within one again at 6-5 with 16:15 remaining in the opening 20 minutes. Sophomore Trent Bell eventually evened the scales at 8-8 with a three-point bucket of his own at the 14:15 mark of the opening half.
However, the Flyers put together a 7-0 scoring run to create a three possession lead with just under 12 minutes to go until the intermission. Jake Reinhart made the layup to establish a 15-8 gap for the Huskies. Freshman Owen White quickly made it a two possession game again though at 15-10 on a layup which was set in motion on a steal from sophomore Isaac Appleby.
Unfortunately, Lewis layups courtesy of Marco Pettinato and Donovan Oliver pushed the Flyers advantage out to 19-10 with 9:04 left in the first. The Huskies were able to cut the deficit to seven points three times to stay within striking distance until the later moments of the half. Two Appleby free throws sliced the gap to 19-12 at the 8:13 mark and then a Witt mid-range jumper that followed up a Dre Bell layup closed things to seven points once more at 21-14.
Dre Bell of Lewis and senior Bryan Heath of Tech then exchanged three-point baskets with 7:10 to play in the first and at that juncture the lead for the Flyers held at 24-17. The Flyers then put together an 8-0 scoring burst which created a 15-point separation. McCullum got to the rim for a dunk with 4:28 on the clock and put the exclamation point on the run. The Flyers carried a 38-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime and the Huskies were unable to get within single digits the rest of the way.
Michigan Tech had two players with 12 or more points in Saturday's contest, led by Appleby with 15 points on a 4 of 7 shooting performance from the field. He also tied with Bilski for a team high four rebounds, distributed four assists, and disrupted the Lewis offense with three steals on defense. Heath added 12 points and recorded six of them at the charity stripe. Witt nearly reached a double digit point total with eight in his first career collegiate game. As a team, the Huskies were 16 of 52 from the floor (30.8%), 7 of 20 from three-point range (35.0%), and 14 for 17 at the free throw line (82.4%).
Delaney Blaylock had a game high 21 points for the Flyers and in addition grabbed six rebounds, delivered four assists, and had one steal on defense. McCullum chipped in 15 points and reeled in a game high nine rebounds. He also boasted a game high five assists and four steals. Donovan Oliver came up just shy of the 10-point threshold with nine points on Saturday.
The Flyers were successful on 31 of 57 shots from the field (54.4%), were on target with 7 of 12 looks from behind the arc (58.3%), and 5 for 10 at the free throw line (50.0%). Lewis out-rebounded Tech 38-27 and both teams committed 17 turnovers.
The Huskies will be back on the court Sunday afternoon in Marquette against McKendree University at 1 p.m. The game can be heard locally on WKMJ Mix93 and live online media can be accessed by clicking here.