HOUGHTON, Mich. – It was a history making night at the SDC Wood Gym Thursday evening as the Michigan Tech men's basketball team prevailed 83-72 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown against Northwood. The Huskies won for the third straight time and Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke recorded his 400th career coaching victory.
"When you have great assistants and people that listen and want to get better that's how results come," Coach Luke said of reaching the milestone win total. "We don't talk about winning and losing. Results through the years have come from guys executing our systems. I certainly don't know it all, but I know somewhat what it takes to be successful at Michigan Tech and in this program. It's really a great feeling when you can get a win in a tough game like tonight's was. Northwood played excellent and our guys grinded it out and we got the win. That's the sign of a good team when you can persevere for a victory in a tough game whether it be at home or on the road. I'm really proud to be a part of this program."
The game went back and forth throughout the night which was characterized by eight ties and 15 lead changes over the course of 40 minutes. Michigan Tech (9-8, 7-3 GLIAC) and Northwood (4-15, 2-8 GLIAC) took turns in front through the first five minutes of the contest. Trailing 12-10 with 14:43 left in the first half after a layup by David Jelinek, sophomore Kyle Monroe sent the Huskies in front with a conventional three-point play. Monroe worked his way into the paint and freshman Tommy Lucca found him open on the pass. Monroe drew contact from Jure Prus and sank the free throw to make it a 13-12 game with 14:27 to go until the break.
Tech would remain on top for the rest of the half although they could never create a gap larger than seven points. The Huskies held leads of five six times in the opening half with the first being generated at 19-14 on a triple by Monroe with 12:27 on the clock. With just under four minutes to go in the half and clinging to a 37-35 lead, Tech engineered a 7-2 run over the next three minutes to go up 44-37. Senior Jordan Chartier got things rolling on a layup followed by a free throw from sophomore Bryan Heath, a layup courtesy of Monroe, and two more successful tries at the charity stripe by Heath. The Huskies would carry a 44-40 edge into the locker at halftime when Jelinek converted a traditional three-point play right before the end of the first period.
The Huskies held back the Timberwolves until the 16:39 mark of the second half when Zach Allread knotted the score at 46-46. The lead changed hands and the score was tied multiple times before Northwood eventually went up 63-58 on a triple by Nick Spitzley with 8:14 to play. About three minutes later, the Huskies took the lead again at 64-63 on a pair of free throws by junior A.J. Grazulis.
There were then two more lead changes and one tie before the Tech took the advantage for good at 69-67 on two Lucca free throws with 4:12 on the clock. Lucca's conversions at the charity stripe sparked an 8-2 run for the Huskies and resulted in a 75-69 edge with 1:23 to go. Free throw shooting was a major storyline in the game for the Huskies who finished the night 29 of 31 from the line. In addition to Lucca, Monroe connected on four free throws and added a layup during that pivotal stretch in the contest.
Matt Crowl brought Northwood to within five again at 75-70 with 1:11 left, but the Huskies would ice the game away on four consecutive free throws by Chartier and Lucca. A Jarel Woolridge layup made it a 79-72 score with 47 seconds to go, but Chartier and senior Jeff Gregory capped the night with four more points at the charity stripe.
Monroe nearly equaled a career high with 37 points to go along with nine rebounds for Tech in Thursday's win. Monroe scored 39 points against Walsh back on December 3rd in the SDC Wood Gym. Monroe was 12 of 24 from the field and 10 for 11 at the free throw line. Lucca had another big night for the Huskies with 16 points, three assists, and four steals followed by Grazulis with 12 points and three assists. Chartier recorded 11 points and was the fourth Tech player to get in double figures on Thursday.
The Huskies were successful on 24 of 52 shots from the field (46.2%), were 6 of 18 from three-point range (33.3%), and 29 of 31 at the free throw line (93.5%). Tech came into the week as the best free throw shooting team in the GLIAC and after Thursday's win are converting 80 percent of their attempts this season. The Huskies only had six turnovers while forcing 14 Northwood miscues that led to 14 points.
Allread and Jelinek both powered the Timberwolves with 13 points apiece Thursday night. Spitzley followed with 11 points and Kyle Lamotte rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points. Brad Schaub chipped in six points and grabbed a team best seven rebounds. Northwood fired in 29 of 53 shots from the field (54.7%), were 6 of 17 from three-point range (35.3%), and 8 of 11 from the foul line (72.7%). The Timberwolves also had a slight edge in rebounding at 28-27.
The Huskies will be back on the court Saturday afternoon when they host Lake Superior State in another GLIAC contest. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.