HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team got back on track Saturday afternoon with a solid 78-62 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at home over Purdue Northwest in the SDC Gym. Following a back and forth battle at the outset of the game, the Huskies seized control in the final five minutes of the first half with a 16-0 run to claim a 36-23 lead at the break. Tech never looked back from that point forward.
"I was really happy for the guys that they were able to bounce back with a good performance today," Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We did a much better job executing on defense compared to Thursday's game against Parkside. I also thought our offense did good job against their pressure and getting the ball inside, which is what we wanted to do.
"It's been a hectic and difficult schedule so far, being on the road with two games per weekend before the two home games this week. We'll design practices this week with some rest in mind along with working on getting better at executing our systems. It's nice to be at home and this will be a good week to get our players some rest and fresh legs with just the one game on Saturday. We'll look to come out and play well at home against UW-Stout next weekend."
It was a bit of a sluggish start for both offenses Saturday afternoon, with neither side getting a bucket for almost three minutes. Purdue Northwest (3-7, 0-4 GLIAC) struck first though when Richard Robertson found his way to the basket at the 17:17 mark. Freshman Owen White countered for Michigan Tech (5-4, 2-2 GLIAC) by firing in a triple on the ensuing possession to make it a 3-2 score a few seconds later.
Saturday's showdown would feature five ties and five lead changes in the first 17 minutes of the game. However, the Huskies would set the tone and wrestle the momentum away from the Pride late in the opening period. Trailing 23-20 with 4:38 left until the break, Tech kicked off the 16-0 scoring burst on two free throws by White and then freshman Kyle Clow powered his way to the basket for a layup to give the Huskies a 24-23 lead.
Senior Bryan Heath, who would fire in a game high 21 points, added two more points to the scoreboard for Tech to make it 26-23 with 3:14 to play until the intermission. The Huskies continued to pile up the points in the final moments of the half, thanks to buckets by sophomore Trent Bell and White to close it out. White put the exclamation point on the first period when he sent home a triple to give tech a 36-23 advantage going into the locker room at halftime.
The Huskies picked up right where they left off to begin the second half, logging the first four points of the final period. Heath and White both worked their way into the paint for layups to increase the gap to 40-23 in favor of Tech. The Pride climbed to within 10 points at 45-35 on a three-point basket by Gregory Boyle with 15:39 to play, but that's as close as they would get.
The Huskies eventually opened up their largest lead of the day with just over six minutes go in the game. Freshman Jake Witt did the honors with a mid-range jumper to make it a 69-49 score. The lead would fluctuate between 17 and 20 points for Tech until the final basket of the afternoon from the Pride's Chandler Spring with 15 seconds remaining, resulting in the 78-62 final tally.
Heath landed 9 of his 17 shots in the bottom of the net on his way to a team high 21 points for the Huskies Saturday afternoon. Sophomore Dawson Bilski followed with 15 points and seven rebounds while White added 16 points and six boards to round out the double digit scorers for the Huskies. Bell nearly came up with a double-double, thanks to a career high 14 rebounds and eight points. He shared the team lead in assists with Isaac Appleby as each player dished out three on the afternoon.
Team numbers for Tech included 33 successful field goals on 68 total attempts (48.5%). The Huskies were 8 for 23 from long distance (34.8%) and connected on 4 of 6 looks at the charity stripe (66.7%). MTU had a huge advantage on the glass, hauling down 50 rebounds compared to only 34 boards for the Pride. Tech recorded 36 points in the paint and dished out 15 assists.
Anthony Barnard and Timothy Gilmore each had 10 points to guide the Purdue Northwest offense Saturday. Barnard also reeled in a game high 15 rebounds while Chase Rankin dealt out a team best five assists in addition to eight points. The Pride made 23 of 67 shots from the floor (34.3%), were just 6 of 23 from three-point range (26.1%), and 10 of 18 at the free throw line (55.6%).
The Huskies take the floor again Saturday when they entertain the University of Wisconsin-Stout in a non-conference contest. The tip-off at the SDC Gym is slated for 6 p.m. eastern time.