HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team played well, but couldn't get past Minnesota State-Moorhead Saturday night at the SDC Gymnasium. The Huskies and Dragons both shot over 50 percent from the field, but Minnesota State-Moorhead had just a bit more offense to prevail 90-82.
"It was a tough loss and I don't know if we are quite ready to win that game yet, but I think we deserve to win some of these games that we've lost," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought we had great shots at the end of the game as did Minnesota State-Moorhead and they made theirs but we weren't able to make ours. They are a very good veteran club and we held in there long enough to give ourselves a chance. I think our execution was good, we moved the ball well, and we defended hard and I'm extremely proud of the effort of our players. If we can continue to grow on this game, once we get healthy we are going to be a much better club."
Saturday's game was tightly contested from the opening tip-off with neither team owning more than an eight point lead the entire night. Sophomore Bryan Heath got Tech (1-3) on the board first when he sliced through the Minnesota State-Moorhead (2-1) defense for a layup in the first 30 seconds of the game. The Dragons answered quickly when Ayob Ayob buried a triple to make it 3-2 with 19:18 on the first half clock.
The back and forth pattern continued through the early stages of the first half until a 14-2 run by the Huskies gave them their largest lead of the night with 12:03 to go until the break. Trailing 16-12, freshman Tommy Lucca fired in a jumper to kick start the scoring burst with just over four minutes gone by in the half. Senior Jordan Chartier dialed in a triple to put Tech on top 17-16 followed by baskets from junior Dillon Gordon and Lucca which ultimately resulted in a 26-18 lead.
The Dragons regrouped and kept the Huskies from pulling too far ahead. The end of the first half played out much like the beginning of the game with the sides trading baskets until the first half buzzer sounded. Tanner Kretchman gave Minnesota State-Moorhead a 43-40 lead with 1:36 to go in the half, but Heath would knot the score again at 43-43 on a three-pointer with 1:12 on the first half clock. The game stayed tied at that number as both teams headed into the locker room.
Saturday's game remained a one possession affair through the beginning stages of the second half, with each team taking turns in front on the scoreboard. The contest featured eight ties and 15 lead changes over the course of 40 minutes of action. With 9:31 to play, Chartier gave the Huskies a 69-67 lead when he found his mark from three-point land.
Unfortunately, the Dragons would respond and establish a foothold on the scoreboard with a 12-2 run over the next five plus minutes. An Addison Park layup gave Minnesota State Moorhead an eight-point cushion at 79-71 with 3:58 on the clock. Tech would bring the gap down to 86-82 on a Lucca conventional three-point play with 28 seconds left, but free throws by Jon Doss and Ayob of Minnesota State-Moorhead prevented a Tech rally in the final seconds.
Lucca powered the Huskies with a season high 27 points while dishing out a team best five assists Saturday night. Chartier followed with a season best 23 points which also equaled a career high for the senior. Heath dropped in 17 points and grabbed five rebounds, sharing the team lead with Chartier on that portion of the stat sheet. Gordon rounded out the double digit scorers for Tech with 13 points off the bench Saturday night.
As a team, the Huskies were 31 of 61 from the field (50.8%), 14 of 30 from behind the arc (46.7%), and 6 of 7 at the free throw line (85.7%). Tech scored 23 points in the paint and the two teams combined for just 13 turnovers on the night.
The Dragons had five players post double digit point totals, led by Ayob with 24 points. Aaron Lien notched 21 points, Kretchman had 17 points, and Park along with Doss chipped in with 10 points apiece. Doss and Park also hauled down a team high seven rebounds for Minnesota State-Moorhead. Kretchman dealt out four of the 10 assists for the Dragons in Saturday's contest. The Dragons found the mark on 29 of 53 shots from the field (54.7%) and out-rebounded Tech 32-25.
The Huskies will head back out on the road next Saturday at Minnesota Duluth followed by a battle at Concordia-St. Paul on Monday. Saturday's tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. tip on Monday.