MIDLAND, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team suffered a 75-70 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss Saturday afternoon on the road against Northwood University. The Huskies battled for 40 minutes and climbed back into the game late after falling behind by 14-points near the 11-minute mark of the second half. Senior Bryan Heath cut the deficit to three points with 20 seconds to play, but a layup and free throws in the final seconds enabled the Timberwolves to escape with the win.
"I'm proud of the effort of our team and they never gave up," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Give credit to Northwood because they played a very nice game today. I thought the major issue for us is that we got away from defending well at times. Our inexperience showed during some stretches in the game, but our team will learn and grow from it. On the flip side of that, a lot of teams would have quit, but our guys kept battling and fought back from the 14-point deficit to give us a chance in the end.
"There were a lot of good things that happened in the game today. We are getting contributions from a lot of different players and today we had four guys with double figure point totals. We're not sure how long this process will take, but the things we can build on are that we didn't quit and multiple players are contributing in all aspects of the game."
Michigan Tech (4-3, 1-1 GLIAC) went toe-to-toe with Northwood (4-4, 2-0 GLIAC) in the first four minutes as each side exchanged hoops Saturday afternoon. The Timberwolves entered the game coming off an impressive 76-64 win against a previously unbeaten Northern Michigan team on Thursday night. Trailing 6-4 with 16:35 to go in the first half, freshman Jake Witt tied the game for the Huskies on a jumper in the paint to knot the score at 6-6.
However, the Timberwolves would break the back and forth cycle on a triple from Zach Allread and a breakaway layup from Ja'Kavien Lewis after he had come up with a steal on the defensive end of the floor. Tech eventually fell behind 16-8 with 13:22 left in the first half before making a run to get back within striking distance. Sophomore Dawson Bilski drove through the lane for a layup, freshman Kyle Clow converted a free throw, and then sophomore Trent Bell notched a three-point play on a layup and free throw to make it a 16-14 score with 11:01 on the first half clock.
Although Northwood maintained a lead, the Huskies kept the game close and remained within two possessions of the Timberwolves until the 6:08 mark of the first half. The Huskies were able to grab the lead for the first time at 26-25 on back to back buckets by Witt and Bilski. Tech would hold leads of three points on three separate occasions, but Northwood ended up taking a 40-39 edge into the locker room at halftime. David Jelinek provided the go ahead points on a layup with 35 seconds remaining in the half.
Almost two minutes ran off the clock before the first points were on the board in the second half. Heath gave the advantage back to the Huskies at 41-40 momentarily on a layup with 18:23 left. The Timberwolves then found some success inside on the offensive end of the floor and in the process created a 59-45 lead with 12:22 to go in the contest. Jack Ammerman provided the Timberwolves with their largest lead of the afternoon on a layup.
The Huskies continued to trail by 14 points at 63-49 with 9:42 remaining in the final period, but Witt sank a pair of free throws a couple minutes later to begin the comeback bid. Clow delivered five straight points and then sophomore Isaac Appleby drained a fade away jumper to cut the deficit to 63-58 with just under six minutes to go.
The Timberwolves advantage fluctuated between five and seven points until Appleby found the bottom of the net from downtown. Appleby's trey made it a 67-63 contest with 1:55 to go, but Lewis countered with two free throws for Northwood for another six-point lead. Clow kept the Huskies alive with a layup followed by two more Lewis makes at the charity stripe. Heath powered his way to the basket on the ensuing possession and ended up coming away with a three-point play, bringing the Huskies to within three at 71-68.
Tech's defense nearly forced a turnover on the inbounds play, but David Jelinek broke free down the floor and wound up sinking a layup and adding a free throw to make it a 74-68 score. Clow countered with a layup for the Huskies with nine seconds remaining, but Tech ran out of time and the Timberwolves held on for the win.
Clow had a season high 16 points off the bench, knocking down 7 of 12 shots from the field in Saturday afternoon's game. He also guided the Huskies on the glass with seven rebounds. Bilski followed with 14 points, Appleby had 11 points and seven assists, and Witt rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points.
As a team, the Huskies were on target with 29 of 56 shots from the field (51.8%), made good on 5 of 15 shots from behind the three-point arc (33.3%), and sank 7 of 9 opportunities at the free throw line (77.8%). Tech out-rebounded Northwood 28-27 and recorded 32 points in the paint with the reserve players providing 31 points off the bench.
Jelinek powered the Timberwolves attack on Saturday, converting 10 of 11 shots from the field on his way to a game high 24 points and a team best six rebounds. Lewis followed with 20 points, with a good amount of his damage coming in the paint and at the free throw line. When he wasn't scoring points, Lewis distributed the ball seven times to teammates who produced buckets. Allread rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points and a team high three steals. The Timberwolves closed the contest making 28 of 53 attempts from the field (52.8%), were 5 of 11 from long distance (45.5%), and 14 for 20 at the free throw line (70.0%).
The Huskies will look to bounce back on Thursday in their home opener against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.