HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team rallied for a 91-87 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory in overtime against Grand Valley State in the SDC Gym Thursday night. The Huskies outscored the Lakers 47-35 in the second half to force the extra frame and then held on to secure a key league win.
"All the credit goes to our players for hanging in there and getting a win against a tough Grand Valley State team," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We struggled in the first half and had to gather ourselves at the intermission. Our players really responded well and did a nice job to get things turned around. We did a much better job of taking care of the basketball in the second half and made some big free throws down the stretch. I really appreciate our player's effort tonight. We didn't quit when we got behind early and it paid off with a victory.
"We'll now face another great team on Saturday in Davenport. They can really shoot the ball well, go up and down the floor, and they try to speed up their opponents like many teams' do. We have to prepare well mentally in practice the next couple of days and get ready to go against Davenport, who will be another big challenge for us."
Michigan Tech (9-7, 4-5 GLIAC) faced a 6-2 deficit with 17:27 to play in the first half, but rallied back with five straight points to take the lead. Sophomore Trent Bell dropped in a layup which was setup on an assist courtesy of freshman Owen White. Sophomore Dawson Bilksi then sighted in a triple to make it a 7-6 contest with 16:47 to go until the break. Bilski's basket created one of the night's six lead changes.
Grand Valley State (11-6, 5-4 GLIAC) then recaptured the advantage with an 11-1 scoring run over the next four minutes. Justin Greason dropped in a layup to create a 17-7 score in favor of the Lakers with 12:33 showing on the first half clock. The run established a foundation that Grand Valley State used to stay ahead until the second half.
The Huskies remained within striking distance through for much of the first half and chipped away to close the deficit to single digits with just over six minutes to go until halftime. Sophomore Isaac Appleby generated a conventional three-point play to make it a 25-21 contest. The old fashion triple by Appleby produced three of his game and career high 21 points Thursday night.
However, the Lakers countered with eight quick points to expand the gap back to double digits at 33-21. Hunter Hale dialed in a triple of his own after a layup from Jeremiah Ferguson and a trey out of the hand of Demetrius Lake, which started the scoring burst. Grand Valley State went up by as many as 14 points before settling for a 40-28 lead at the intermission.
The Lakers reconstructed their 14-point advantage twice in the early moments of the second half, but the Huskies generated a spark to get themselves back into contention. Bilski found his rhythm from behind the arc, burying three consecutive triples to close the deficit down to five points at 46-41 with 16:21 left. Tech's defense created two turnovers to help engineer the quick 9-0 run.
The Lakers appeared to have stopped the momentum due in part to a Hale three-point shot that found the mark with 14:33 to go in regulation. His basket once again put Grand Valley State out ahead by double digits at 54-43. The Huskies then drew to within one possession again at 59-56 with 9:40 to play on a Bilski three-pointer only to see the Lakers go up again by 10 points at 66-56 on a Ben Lubitz layup just over two minutes later.
The Huskies were finally able to pull even at 68-68 when senior Bryan Heath bolted to the basket for layup with 4:20 remaining in regulation. The two sides traded points until the final minute, with Heath putting the Huskies back on top 75-73 with a conventional three-point play. Grand Valley State answered though with two Jake Van Tubbergen free throws, knotting the score at 75-75 with 36 seconds left to force the extra frame.
There was no margin for error in overtime as each side took turns holding the lead to begin the extra five minutes. Trailing 82-81 with 2:24 on the clock, Tech was finally able to string some points together on the offensive end of the floor. White vaulted the Huskies back in front 83-82 on two free throws and then Bell made his way to the bucket for a layup after a defensive rebound by Appleby, leaving the score at 85-82.
The Lakers got two points back at the free throw line with 25 seconds to go, but Heath pushed the edge out to three points again at 87-84 for the Huskies thanks to two clutch shots at the charity stripe. Appleby and Bilski then followed in Heath's footsteps at the line as both players converted a pair of free throws each to seal the 91-87 win.
Appleby powered the Huskies' offense with a career high 21 points and nine rebounds followed by Bilski with 20 points and five boards. Heath checked in with 19 points and White matched a season high with 16 points while reeling in a season best nine rebounds. White also delivered a team high three assists and Appleby came up with four steals on defense.
The Huskies knocked down 29 of 71 shots from the field (40.8%), were 7 of 30 from three-point range (23.3%), and season best 26 of 28 at the free throw line (92.9%). Tech out-rebounded Grand Valley State 41-38, including 18 offensive rebounds which led to 18 second chance points. The Huskies' defense also forced 14 turnovers by the Lakers, resulting in 20 points on the offensive side of the floor.
Hale had a team high 21 points for the Lakers followed by Van Tubbergen with 19 points and Ferguson with 16 points. Ferguson had a team high eight rebounds and five assists to go along with his point totals. Grand Valley State found the target on 31 of 63 shots from the field (49.2%), went 7 for 14 from behind the arc (50.0%), and 18 of 20 at the free throw line (90.0%).
The Huskies will close out the four game home stand Saturday afternoon when they battle GLIAC foe Davenport University at the SDC Gym. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. eastern time.