DETROIT, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team rallied from an early first half deficit and held on at the end for a key 63-58 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at first place Wayne State University Thursday night. The Huskies trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but overtook the Warriors late in the second to earn the victory.
"It was a tough game against one of the top teams in the conference in Wayne State," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I give a lot of credit to our players because they really battled and executed our game plan tonight. We've given some close games away this year, but this is one we didn't want to let get away. Our guys hit some big shots and key free throws down the stretch to seal it for us. I'm really proud because not only was this a huge win for us, but when we get these games I feel like we are making progress. We move on to face one of the top teams in the country on Saturday at Saginaw Valley and we'll need to step up big again."
Wayne State (9-3, 6-2 GLIAC) jumped out to the early lead on Thursday night when Ronald Booth opened the scoring with a triple 38 seconds into the action. About a minute later, freshman Tommy Lucca answered for Michigan Tech (7-8, 5-3 GLIAC) with a trey of his own to tie the score at 3-3. Unfortunately, the Huskies went into a bit of a scoring drought during the next three minutes and found themselves behind 12-3 with 15:27 left to play in the opening period.
Sophomore's Bryan Heath and Kyle Monroe pulled Tech to within six points twice before the Warriors constructed what would be their largest lead of the night at 19-8. Clark Bishop dialed in a triple with 13:32 to go until the break which resulted in the only double digit advantage for either side in the contest.
Tech didn't let things get out of hand at the point and began to chip away at the deficit as the first half progressed. Heath closed the gap back to four points at 23-19 on a three-pointer with 7:25 remaining until the break, but the Wayne State edge would grow to seven points on two more occasions before a strong finish to the half by the Huskies made it a two-point game when the buzzer sounded. Trailing 28-21, Tech recorded seven of the final nine points in the first half to draw within two at 30-28.
Monroe posted the first two points on a jumper followed by a layup courtesy of Lucca and a triple out of the hand of Heath. Marcus Moore drove to the basket for the Warriors and notched the final two-points of the half, giving Wayne State the lead at the intermission. The Huskies had held the Warriors scoreless for over five minutes until Moore's basket in the waning seconds of the first period.
Senior Jordan Chartier tied the game 30-30 with a jumper on the first possession of the second half, but Wayne State countered with six straight points to go up 36-30 after a Chuck Key layup with 17:31 to play. The Huskies stayed within striking distance and took their first lead of the night with 11:38 to go. Trailing 42-37, senior Jeff Gregory dialed in a triple followed by a trey from Lucca and a layup by senior Jason Hawke to give Tech the edge for the first time at 45-42.
The teams traded baskets until the final two minutes to set up an exciting finish to the night. Booth pushed the Warriors in front 53-52 on a three-pointer with 1:55 to play, but Hawke would answer for Tech with five straight points. Hawke worked his way into the paint for a layup on the next possession with Lucca setting him up to score on a precision pass through the defense.
The Warriors then turned it over and Hawke came through once again with one of the biggest shots of the night. As the shot clock was winding down, Hawke managed to get around the defender enough to release a jumper which found the bottom of the night. Key also ended up committing a foul, enabling Hawke to go to the charity stripe to convert a conventional three-point play for a 57-53 Tech advantage.
Marucs Moore kept Wayne State within one possession at 57-55 on two free throws, but Lucca quickly extended the gap to four again at 59-55 on an acrobatic layup with 23 seconds left. Booth sprinted down the floor for a layup close the Tech lead to two again at 59-57. However, the Huskies were able to seal the win with four free throws from Heath and Monroe in the last 18 seconds of the contest.
Lucca, who is the reigning GLIAC North Division Player of the Week, played all 40 minutes on his way to a team high 17 points Thursday night. He went 7 of 14 from the field with two rebounds and three assists. Chartier followed with 15 points, three boards, and three assists while Heath tacked on 13 points and four rebounds. Hawke came off the bench to notch seven second half points while Monroe closed the game with six points and a team best eight rebounds.
The Huskies made good on 24 of 58 shots from the field (41.4%) were 10 of 30 from behind the arc (33.3%), and 5 for 5 at the free throw line. Tech generated 18 points off 11 Wayne State turnovers while producing 15 second chance points and 22 points in the paint. The Tech reserves outscored the Warriors bench 12-2.
Booth had a game high 22 points for the Warriors followed by Key with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Lewis distributed five assists and grabbed 10 rebounds for Wayne State in Thursday's game. The Warriors were limited to a 21 of 57 shooting night from the field (36.8%) made 6 of 16 attempts from behind the three-point line (37.5%) and were 10 of 13 at the free throw line (76.9%). The Warriors had a slight rebounding edge at 38-34.
The Huskies will be back on the floor Saturday afternoon when they wrap up the four game road stretch at Saginaw Valley State. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.