KENOSHA, Wis. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell 82-74 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest Saturday afternoon at Parkside. The Huskies, who rallied from 18 points down Thursday night for a 75-67 win at Purdue Northwest, faced a 15-point deficit at the break before mounting a late rally in the final minutes. Unfortunately, the Rangers were able to hold off the charge.
"We started out flat again today and we have to figure out a way to play stronger and with more urgency at the beginning of games," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We should be proud of what we are capable of doing, but we are not quite over the hump yet. Credit to Parkside because they played a great game and are a solid club. I'm proud of the way we played in the second half and how we fought back to give ourselves a chance at the end. One thing about this team is that we don't quit and won't quit and our players are going to keep giving it their best."
It was a slow start offensively for both Michigan Tech (10-10, 5-8 GLIAC) and Parkside (11-8, 9-4 GLIAC) Saturday afternoon. The contest remained scoreless until the 17:42 mark when Brandon Hau pushed the Rangers in front 2-0. The Huskies then countered about two minutes later when senior Bryan Heath collected a layup in transition which was setup by a steal from sophomore Isaac Appleby.
The Rangers began to establish a foothold in the game when Joey St. Pierre muscled his way to the basket for a layup. The field goal sparked an 11-0 Parkside run over the next two minutes, culminating on another St. Pierre basket in the lane. The Rangers found themselves up 13-2 at the 13:44 mark of the opening half.
Sophomore Dawson Bilski then got into an offensive rhythm for the Huskies, reeling off six consecutive points to bring Tech back to within striking distance. Bilski drove to the basket for a layup before dialing in a pair of jumpers to cut the deficit to 13-8 with 12:01 left on the first half clock. Unfortunately, eight straight points by Parkside expanded the gap back out to double digits. Bret Barclay connected from long distance with 9:41 remaining to make it a 21-8 score in favor of the Rangers.
With 5:22 to play in the opening frame, freshman TeeAaron Powell fired in two of his career high 27 points to slice the deficit down to five points again at 24-19. Powell provided a huge spark for the Huskies offense off the bench, collecting six points in the first half followed by 21 more in the second.
As was the case earlier in the first, the Rangers countered following the Powell field goal with eight consecutive points to boost their advantage back out to double digits at 32-19 with 3:19 left. The score eventually stood at 38-23 in Parkside's favor as both clubs went into the locker room at the intermission.
The Huskies offense caught fire in the second half, enabling them to remain in contention until the end. Tech converted 21 of 32 second half shots (65.6%), with many taking place at point blank range in the paint. The Huskies would go on to post 38 points inside which was over half of their offensive production. Unfortunately, Parkside's offense continued to click preventing Tech from making much of a dent in the deficit until late.
Bilski brought the score down to single digits for the first time since the opening half when he sighted in a triple to make it 61-52 with 7:21 to play. Brandon Hau had a quick response to Bilski's trey with one of his own on the ensuing possession. However, the Huskies didn't get discouraged and continued to make baskets, preventing the Rangers from pulling away.
Trailing 76-64 with 1:28 left to play, Tech made one final charge to try and even things up or take the lead. Powell connected on back to back layups, setup by Tech's defense forcing a Parkside turnover in between to make it 76-68. Adam Bonk then converted two free throws for the Rangers before a triple and layup by Heath cut the gap to 78-73 with 37 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, with time winding down the Huskies were forced to foul and Ramar Evans converted two shots at the free throw line. Parkside tacked on two more points before the buzzer with Powell adding a free throw to close out the scoring for the Huskies.
Powell found the bottom the net on 12 of 15 shots from the field and had four rebounds on his way to a career high 27 points in Saturday's game. It's the highest point total for a Tech player in a game this season, with Bilski owning the previous high of 25 points against UW-Stout back on December 15th. Bilski wrapped up the Parkside game with 15 points and a team high seven rebounds while Heath rounded out the double digit point producers with 12 points and a team best four assists.
In terms of team stats, the Huskies were successful on a season high 32 of 61 shots from the field Saturday afternoon (52.5%). Tech closed the contest 5 for 21 from behind the arc (23.8%) and went 5 for 7 at the free throw line (71.4%). The Huskies generated 38 points in the paint and picked up 13 points off of 13 Parkside miscues.
Hau and Chavares Flanigan each had 20 points to lead the Rangers in Saturday's game. St. Pierre tacked on 12 points and hauled down a team high seven rebounds. Flanigan paced the team in steals and assists with four in each category. The Rangers ended the afternoon making 27 of 48 shots from the floor (56.3%), were 10 for 23 from three-point range (43.5%), and converted 18 of 20 chances at the free throw line (90.0%). Parkside had a slight edge in total rebounds 26-23 over the course of 40 minutes.
The Huskies will look to regroup Thursday when they return to the SDC Gym to face Northwood University to open Winter Carnival weekend. The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.