ERIE, Pa. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team held on for a 78-69 non-conference win over Alderson Broaddus Friday night in game one of the 35th Annual Gary Miller Classic hosted by Gannon University. The Huskies held an opponent to under 70 points for the third time this season while the offense came through with some timely shots down the stretch to secure the victory.
"Our games are going to be pressure packed and close throughout the season," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought our guys made some strides tonight in regards to executing down the stretch and we progressed defensively in terms of keeping them in front of us as they were a more athletic team. We played hard the whole game, I thought our rebounding was ok, and Dawson [Bilski] came through with a big second half.
"The biggest thing I felt in the locker room after the game was some confidence from our guys. With our youth, the biggest things for us are getting the game slowed down and confidence and a game like this can really help us. We have another tough matchup tomorrow night against a very good Gannon team that is solid defensively and athletic. It's another opportunity to test ourselves and get better."
Michigan Tech (2-2) went right to work on offense after the defense forced a missed shot by Mike Davis of Alderson Broaddus (1-3) to start the game. Senior Bryan Heath filled up the first of 13 triples for the Huskies from the left wing to make it a 3-0 score. The Huskies stayed one step ahead of the Battlers until the 18:08 mark when Bryan Polanco gave Alderson Broaddus its first lead at 6-5 on a layup.
Tech didn't trail for long as sophomore Dawson Bilski connected from 3-point land to make it 8-6 on the ensuing possession. The bucket sparked an 11-2 scoring burst by the Huskies that constructed a 16-8 gap with 13:25 to go until the break. Sophomore Trent Bell capped the run on a layup after he was setup for an open look at the basket by freshman Kyle Clow.
The Battlers didn't go away though, as just over three minutes later they were within a point of the Huskies at 16-15. A steal by Bryan Polanco initiated a fast break three-point basket from David Shriver at the midway juncture of the first half. Freshman Owen White stopped the Battlers run with a three-point bucket to make the score 19-15, setting in motion a back and forth pattern between to the two clubs for the remainder of the first half.
The Huskies would lead by no more than five points while Alderson Broaddus managed leads of only one. In total, the advantage changed hands six different times during the first 20 minutes of action Friday night.
The Huskies attempted to create some separation late in the first half when Heath knocked down another triple to give Tech a 37-32 edge with just under two minutes to go until halftime. However, the Battlers stormed back to tie it up right before the buzzer as Davis found the range from behind the arc to knot the score at 37-37.
Alderson Broaddus fired in the first four points of the second half on layups by Brandon Simmons and Coye Campbell before the Huskies eventually knotted the score again at 42-42 on a layup from freshman Jake Witt at the 16:19 mark. The two sides exchanged baskets during the next couple of minutes until the Huskies established a five-point foothold at 51-46 on another Witt layup with 12:50 to go.
Tech never trailed from that point forward, although the contest remained within two possessions until there were less than nine minutes to play. Leading 56-52, Bilksi came through with another three-point basket to bump the advantage out to seven points at 59-52. The Huskies went on to generate a pair of 12-point leads at 64-52 and 66-54, but a pesky Alderson Broaddus team would hang around and challenge Tech down the stretch.
The Battlers proceeded to reel off nine straight points to slice Tech's cushion to just five points again at 66-61 on two free throws from Campbell with 5:37 to play. Just over three minutes later, two Davis free throws had tightened the gap even closer at 67-65 and at that point the game continued to hang in the balance.
However, Bell hauled down a clutch offensive rebound and got a put back layup to go on Tech's next turn with the basketball. The Huskies' defense then came up with some key stops and Heath stepped up to deliver seven straight points to put the game out of reach. Heath converted two free throws, connected from behind the arc, and dropped in a layup after securing an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. The put back layup gave the Huskies a 76-65 lead with 49 seconds to go and from there they were able to close it out.
Bilski powered the Huskies' offense with a career high 22 points in Friday night's victory. Bilski was successful on 8 of 16 attempts from the field and 6 of 11 chances from three-point land. He poured in 19 of his points in the second half. Bilski's previous career high was 18 points against Purdue Northwest on February 3, 2018. Bilski added five rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot to the box score.
Heath followed Bilski with 21 points, going 5 of 10 from long distance. Heath also added five rebounds and a pair of assists. Freshman Owen White tossed in a season and career high nine points while Witt chipped in eight points of the bench. Bell notched seven points and freshman Kyle Clow chalked up six points in the victory. Sophomore Isaac Appleby had a team high eight rebounds, matched a career and season high of eight assists, while contributing five points.
As a team, the Huskies converted 28 of 59 field goals (47.5%), dialed in 13 of 26 triple tries (50.0%), and cashed in 9 of 11 looks at the free throw line (81.8%). Tech had a slight edge in rebounding at 38-37, dealt out 21 assists, and had strong contributions from the bench with 23 points compared to just nine for the Battlers.
Davis had a game high 23 points for the Battlers followed by Tyler Golphin with 13 points and Campbell with 12 points. Shriver had the only nine points for the Alderson Broaddus reserves. The Battlers were limited to a success rate of 26 for 70 on shots from the field (37.1%) and were just 8 of 23 from behind the arc (34.8%) after sinking 7 of 10 in the first half. They were also an identical 9 of 11 at the free throw line (81.8%).
The Huskies will take on Gannon University Saturday night in the championship game starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Hammermill Center. Gannon defeated Fayetteville State 70-62 in Friday's other game.