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Huskies Outpace Northern Michigan Monday Night

Huskies Outpace Northern Michigan Monday Night

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team closed the first half of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division schedule with an impressive 76-62 victory at rival Northern Michigan University Monday night. The Huskies, behind 33 points from sophomore Kyle Monroe, outscored the Wildcats by 10 points in the second half to pull away for the win.

"It was a really nice second half for us and a great win tonight for our club," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought our defense in the second half was a little better than in the first half and our intensity picked up in the second half as well. We moved the ball well and we were able to get it to Kyle (Monroe) who came through for us with a really nice game. We also made our free throws down the stretch when we had to. It was a well-executed game in a rivalry game and I was happy for our guys to get this win tonight."

Michigan Tech (12-9, 10-4 GLIAC) went inside the paint for their first six points of the night, starting with a layup by Monroe followed by two more bank shots by junior A.J. Grazulis to make it a 6-2 lead. Northern Michigan (6-13, 4-10 GLIAC) then grabbed the edge for the first time at 9-6 with 15:22 left in the first half on a triple by Sam Taylor.

From there, the game seesawed back and forth through the entire first half which featured eight ties and 10 lead changes. The largest advantage for the Huskies in the opening period occurred with 9:18 left on the clock. Junior Dillon Gordon capped off an 8-0 Tech run that started with just under 12 minutes to go until the break. Trailing 17-14, Monroe hit a 15-foot jumper and then followed it up with a three-point field goal to make it 19-17 in favor of the Huskies. Gordon's basket increased the lead to 22-17.

The Wildcats pulled in front again at 33-32 on two Sam Taylor free throws with 1:54 left until halftime. However, the Huskies closed the half strong by scoring seven of the nine points in the last two minutes of Monday night's opening chapter. Freshman Tommy Lucca converted two free throws with 1:36 on the clock, Gordon dialed in another key trey, and senior Jason Hawke delivered a layup with 30 seconds remaining, giving tech a 39-35 edge at intermission. The lone NMU field goal in the final stretch of the first half was made by Naba Echols. At that point, Tech would never relinquish the advantage the rest of the night.

Less than four minutes into the second half, the Huskies would go up by double digits for the first time at 51-41 courtesy of a layup by Grazulis with 16:34 to go. Grazulis gave Tech a 14-point cushion to work with at the 11:33 mark when he worked his way open in the paint for another successful layup off the glass to make it a 60-46 score.

The Wildcats stuck around and continued to make things interesting when they pulled to within eight at 67-59 on a Rod Johnson triple wit 5:51 to play. The Huskies quickly responded to suppress any momentum that may have been building up for NMU. Monroe made it a ten-point game at 69-59 on a layup with 3:53 to play followed by a huge trey from senior Jordan Chartier. Sophomore Bryan Heath was perfect at the charity stripe with four successful tries in the final two minutes to help make sure there wouldn't be an NMU rally.

Monroe lead all scorers with 33 points and thanks to 10 rebounds he recorded his fifth double-double of the 2016-17 campaign for Tech. He wrapped up the night 15 of 24 from the field and in the process bumped his season scoring average to 20.2 points per game. Chartier followed with 11 points and was 4 for 5 from the floor with three treys. Grazulis tacked on eight points and six rebounds while Lucca closed the contest with six points and a career high eight assists. Heath, Gordon, and Hawke finished the game with six points each as well.

The Huskies fired in 30 of 61 total shots from the field (49.2%), were 8 for 20 from three-point range (40.0%), and 8 for 8 at the charity stripe (100%). Tech out-rebounded NMU 37-28, recorded 34 points in the paint, and created 11 points off eight Wildcat turnovers.

Northern Michigan had five players in double figures, paced by Sam Taylor with 16 points. Rod Johnson had 14 points off the bench while Echols, Jordan Perez, and Marcus Matelski each chipped in 11 points. Perez had seven rebounds to go along with his point totals while Echols delivered six assists. The Wildcats wrapped up the night 23 of 57 from the field (40.4%), were 10 of 31 from three-point range (32.3%), and 7 for 8 at the free throw line (87.5%).

The Huskies will travel to GLIAC foe Northwood on Thursday for game two of their three game road trip which will conclude on Saturday at Lake Superior State. The tip-off on Thursday is slated for 8 p.m.