ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team completed a four game road trip with a 71-53 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss at Grand Valley State Saturday afternoon. The Huskies fell behind early and were unable to regroup against a Lakers team that has now won four in a row.
"Grand Valley State is playing well right now and are tough to beat on this court," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought we responded better in the second half and did some nice things offensively and defensively. We had a number of good shots on the offensive end of the floor today, but struggled at times to convert. We played harder and were more aggressive in the second and we have to find a way to do that from start to finish. We have one more chance to take the floor this season against a good Northern Michigan club Thursday night. We are excited to be at home for Senior Day and our guys will work hard this week to finish the season strong against the Wildcats."
Grand Valley State (16-11, 10-9 GLIAC) established a foothold on the scoreboard in the first four minutes of Saturday's game with a 10-0 run. Jake Van Tubbergen gave the Lakers their first points of the afternoon when he knocked down a mid-range jumper 18 seconds into the action. Grand Valley State then reeled off eight more consecutive points before Michigan Tech (11-15, 6-13 GLIAC) was able to break through on offense for the first time with just over 15 minutes to go in the half.
Ben Lubitz capped the scoring burst for the Lakers with a pair of free throws, creating a 10-0 score at the 15:47 mark. Sophomore Trent Bell provided Tech's first points of the day when he filled up a triple to make it 10-3 with 15:24 remaining until the intermission. About two minutes later, Bell helped keep the Huskies within seven points when he came up with a steal at the timeline and sprinted to the basket for a dunk to make it 15-8.
Unfortunately, a 9-0 scoring run by the Lakers ensued to increase the gap to 24-8 with 11:28 left in the opening frame. Jeremiah Ferguson cut to the basket for a layup for Grand Valley State's final basket during that stretch. Sophomore Dawson Bilski countered with the next five points for the Huskies and his three-point basket with 9:38 to play until the break kept Tech within 13 points at 26-13.
However, during the final minutes of the first half the Lakers were able to keep inching further and further away. Justin Greason gave Grand Valley State a 43-19 advantage when he hauled down an offensive rebound and followed it up with a jumper at the 2:42 mark. Greason then closed out the scoring in the first 20 minutes by sinking two attempts at the charity stripe for a 45-20 Grand Valley State lead at the intermission.
The Huskies regrouped at halftime and put together a strong second half, outpacing the Lakers 33-26 in the final 20 minutes of Saturday's battle. Grand Valley State opened up a 62-28 advantage courtesy of a Van Tubbergen trey with 11:57 remaining in the game, but the Huskies were able to slice away nearly half the points off the gap by the time the final horn sounded.
Tech was finally able to settle into a rhythm on offense when Bilski and sophomore Isaac Appleby hoisted in consecutive triples with just under seven minutes to go, cutting the gap to 66-40. Freshman Jalen Carter generated a layup followed by free throws from junior Ryan Schuller and Bell to close the divide to 67-45 at the 4:06 mark.
Freshman Jake Witt produced five points in the final two minutes and freshman Carter Johnston was the 10th Tech player to record points when he came up with a steal in the final seconds, leading to a layup on the offensive end of the floor. Carter aided Johnston with an assist on the play which resulted in the final tally of 71-53.
Bell and Bilski powered the Huskies' attack on Saturday with each player logging 12 points in the game. Bell closed the day as Tech's leading rebounder thanks to seven boards against the Lakers. Witt and senior Bryan Heath generated eight points apiece followed by Appleby, Carter, and KC Borseth with three points each. Johnston had two points with one each from Schuller and freshman Owen White. Appleby distributed a team high three assists and played havoc on the Grand Valley State offense with three steals.
In terms of team stats, the Huskies connected on 19 of 56 shots from the field (33.9%), were 7 for 23 from behind the arc (30.4%), and 8 for 15 at the charity stripe (53.3%). Tech hauled down 36 rebounds and had 12 second chance points off of 10 offensive boards.
Hunter Hale paced the Lakers with 14 points, Greason tossed in 13 points, Van Tubbergen fired in 12 points, and Ferguson chipped in 10 points to round out the double digit scorers in Saturday's contest. Van Tubbergen just missed a double-double with nine rebounds while Hale dished out two assists and had seven steals.
As a team, the Lakers made 22 of 51 shots from the field (43.1%), were 4 of 16 from three-point land (25.0%), and 23 of 28 at the free throw line (82.1%). The Lakers ended the day with 40 rebounds and scored 23 points off of 19 Tech turnovers.
The Huskies return to Houghton Thursday night to host rival Northern Michigan in a GLIAC showdown at the SDC Gym. Thursday's game is also Senior Night and both the Tech men's and women's teams will honor their senior players between games. Thursday night's tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.