ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team closed the two game road trip on Monday night with an 85-80 loss at non-conference foe Concordia St. Paul. The Huskies held a five-point lead at the break, but a 49 point second half by the Golden Bears proved to be the difference in the game.
"It was a tough game for us tonight and we had a lot of trouble slowing them down defensively," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We didn't do a very good job of keeping them out of the paint and they were able to consistently get shots right underneath the basket. I thought we had good balance on offense, but we have to get better on the defensive end of the floor."
Monday's game was another back and forth battle with neither side building a lead greater than seven points. During the course of 40 minutes, the leads switched eight times with the game becoming deadlocked on nine different occasions. Michigan Tech (2-4) and Concordia St. Paul (3-3) traded baskets through the first three minutes, leaving the game tied 4-4 when sophomore Kyle Monroe connected on a jumper with 16:56 on the clock.
The Golden Bears then tallied seven of the games next 10 points to build an 11-7 edge on a triple by Matt Ambriz with 15:25 remaining in the half. The Huskies then countered with a 7-0 run to vault in front on the strength of a layup by James Wezensky, a three-pointer by Monroe, and another bucket by Wezensky. Wenzensky's second field goal occurred at the 13:39 mark of the first half, resulting in a 14-11 advantage.
Later in the half, Concordia St. Paul engineered another four-point lead at 25-21 following a Max Keefe triple with 7:16 on the clock. Senior Jordan Chartier answered for Tech with back to back jumpers from behind the arc and once again put the Huskies on top 27-25. The gap eventually grew to five at 34-29 on a free throw from junior A.J. Grazulis with just over three minutes to go until the break. The Huskies maintained a five-point 41-36 edge when the first half buzzer sounded. Sophomore Bryan Heath closed the half with a free throw and a jumper just before time expired.
With just over 17 minutes to go in the second half, Tech built the largest lead of the night at 49-42 when Heath dialed in a jumper from three-point land. Unfortunately, the Huskies weren't able to expand on it and put the game out of reach. The Golden Bears were able to hang around and with 11:46 left in the game took the lead back 56-54 on a conventional three-point play by Keefe.
Tech tied the game three different times over the next nine minutes and then briefly pull ahead 78-77 on a triple by freshman Tommy Lucca. Unfortunately, the Huskies weren't able to get a stop defensively as Concordia St. Paul had an answer each time, including a layup by Ahmad Newsome with 1:51 to go to make it a 79-78 score. The Golden Bears then held off the Huskies in the final two minutes by going 6 for 8 at the free throw line to seal their win.
Lucca had a game high 20 points to power the Huskies by sinking 6 of 12 shots from the field and 7 of 11 attempts at the free throw line. Lucca also distributed a team best seven assists in 39 minutes of work on the floor. Heath followed with 17 points and seven rebounds, Chartier tossed in 14 points, Grazulis posted 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Monroe rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points and a team high eight rebounds. He also dished out five of Tech's 17 assists.
As a team, the Huskies were 27 of 61 from the field (44.3%), 12 of 28 from three-point range (42.9%), and 14 of 21 at the charity stripe (66.7%). Tech had a slight edge in rebounding 34-33 and produced 10 points off nine Concordia turnovers.
The Golden Bears had six players record 11 or more points in the game, led by Bryndan Matthews with 17 points and nine rebounds. Ambriz, Newsome, and Keefe each had 12 points while Powell and Sam Siganos both tacked on 11 points Monday night. Newsome had five assists and Ted Brown chipped in eight points and two blocked shots. As a team, Concordia St. Paul knocked down 29 of 52 attempts from the floor (55.8%), were 5 for 15 from three-point range (33.3%), and 22 of 30 from the charity stripe (73.3%). The Golden Bears were able to record 46 of their 85 points in the paint.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they host Walsh University in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener at 3 p.m.