DETROIT, Mich. – The Michigan Tech's men's basketball team ended the weekend with a 67-54 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference setback Saturday afternoon at Wayne State. The Huskies kept the game close and battled hard to the final buzzer, but were forced to play catchup most of the way.
"Even though we are disappointed with the loss, I thought we played better today," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "The process isn't all about the results, but the program advancing and I felt like we did that today. Wayne State is a very tough well coached team that's plays as hard as any team in the country and we stayed with them. I was very pleased with our effort, our rebounding, and I thought we executed better today and made progress.
"We are happy to have a chance to return home Thursday as we get set to face another very good team in Ferris State. The Bulldogs are the defending NCAA National Champions and they lost some players, but they also have a lot of players returning. Ferris State is an athletic team that is going to press us for 40 minutes whether they are up by two points or 40 points. That's the style they play and we have to be ready to handle the pressure and rebound. If we can do that, we'll put ourselves in a position to get a win Thursday night."
Michigan Tech (7-6, 2-4 GLIAC) got the upper hand first in Saturday's game, winning the opening tip and quickly getting the ball inside to freshman Jake Witt for a jumper in the paint. Wayne State (3-7, 3-3 GLIAC) countered by tying the game on two free throws courtesy of Karim Murray. The Warriors then took the edge with two more attempts at the charity stripe, this time by Xavier Cochran at the 18:19 mark of the first half.
Freshman Dawson Bilski delivered a three-point basket for the Huskies on the ensuing possession, which was kept alive on an offensive rebound by sophomore Trent Bell. The bucket out of the hand of BIlski provided Tech with a 5-4 lead. Unfortunately, a 7-2 scoring run by the Warriors tipped the scales in their favor at 11-7, culminating on a three-point field goal by Darian Owens-White with 14:31 on the clock.
Wayne State eventually widened the gap to 13 points at 23-10 on a layup by Timothy Huguley with just over nine minutes to play until the intermission. However, the Huskies fought back, starting with a dunk by Witt which was setup on a precision pass by senior Bryan Heath. Then with 1:30 on the first half clock, freshman TeeAaron Powell tossed in two of his career high 13 points to slice the deficit to seven points at 33-26. Latin Davis Jr. would then produced the final two points of the half, giving the Warriors a 35-26 lead at the midway point of Saturday's game.
The Huskies powered their way out of the gate to start the second half, reeling off a 9-2 run to close the spread to three points at 37-34 with 17:19 to go. Heath drilled a triple to begin the burst followed by a layup and three-point basket via Bilski. However, the Warriors regrouped by going on an 8-1 run to bump their advantage back out to double digits at 45-35 with 13:42 remaining in the second.
The Huskies kept the pressure on and prevented Wayne State from completely pulling away. After falling behind 55-42 at the 8:05 mark, a 6-0 scoring run brought the difference down to single digits again at 55-48 on two free throws by junior Ryan Schuller with just over six minutes to go.
The Warriors bumped their lead to double digits again at 59-48, but sophomore Trent Bell delivered a triple with 2:26 to play, keeping Tech's hopes alive. Unfortunately, Owens-White answered with a three-pointer of his own and then Davis Jr. sank two free throws with 1:04 remaining to put the game out of reach at 64-54. Davis Jr. tacked on three more free throws to close out the scoring.
Powell and Bilski guided the Huskies with 13 points apiece Saturday afternoon. The points total along with seven rebounds for Powell were also career highs in each of those categories. Bilski shared the team lead with Bell in regards to rebounds as each player hauled down eight. Heath followed with 11 points to round out the double digit scorers, Witt chipped in eight points, and sophomore Isaac Appleby had a team high five assists.
In terms of team stats, the Huskies fired in 20 of 61 shots from the field (32.8%), were 7 of 19 from long distance (36.8%), and 7 for 13 at the free throw line (53.8%). Tech out-rebounded Wayne State 43-37 and had nine second chance points thanks to 16 offensive rebounds.
Owens-White along with Davis Jr. generated 20 points to lead the Warriors on Saturday. Wilson closed the contest with eight points and a game high nine rebounds while Davis Jr. added six rebounds and a team high three assists. The Warriors were successful on 23 of 58 shots from the field (39.7%), connected on 4 of 15 chances from three-point range (26.7%), and cashed in 17 of 21 opportunities at the charity stripe.
The Huskies are back at home Thursday night when they host Ferris State for a GLIAC showdown at the SDC Gym. The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.