MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team had its five game winning streak snapped on Sunday afternoon with 77-65 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss at rival Northern Michigan University. The Huskies played catchup most of the game and battled back to within six points late in the second half after trailing by as many as 19 points. Unfortunately, the Wildcats answered with back to back triples to keep Tech from potentially completing the comeback.
"I think Northern Michigan deserves credit because they played a lot better than we did today," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We picked a bad day to struggle with our execution and they made all their shots down the stretch. We made a run at them near the end of the game, but they made the big plays and credit to them for that. We'll get back to work tomorrow and look forward to getting better Tuesday night at Winona State."
Michigan Tech (7-4, 4-1 GLIAC) struck first nearly two minutes into the game when senior A.J. Grazulis grabbed an offensive rebound and had a put back to make it 2-0. Northern Michigan (8-3, 5-0 GLIAC) responded with the next six points on a pair of layups by Sam Taylor and one courtesy of Will Carius. The Wildcats would go on to increase their advantage to 13-4 at the 13:13 mark before the Huskies would rally midway through the opening half.
Grazulis and junior Kyle Monroe combined for the next six points to cut the gap to 13-10 with 10:32 to play until the break. Tech drew to within one point twice during the next two minutes and then with 7:41 remaining on the first half clock, junior Bryan Heath got to the basket for a layup, resulting in a 19-18 edge.
The Wildcats regained the lead 21-19 on a triple by Taylor with 6:58 on the clock, but the Huskies would remain within striking distance. Senior Dillon Gordon fired in a midrange jumper to keep Tech on NMU's heels at 27-26, but the Wildcats would turn the momentum in their favor with a 10-0 run to close the opening period. Carius capped the scoring burst with a layup to make the score 37-26 with just over a minute to go until intermission.
Northern Michigan kept Tech at arm's length for the majority of the second half. The Wildcats created a 19-point cushion for the first time at 56-37 on a conventional three-point play by Carius with 11:24 left on the clock. However, the Huskies wouldn't go quietly and began to mount a comeback with just under six minutes to play.
Trailing 67-51, Tech reeled off nine straight points to close the gap to 67-60. Monroe got things rolling with a jumper followed by two free throws from Heath and a conventional three-point play by Monroe. Freshman Dawson Bilski capped the run on a layup at the 3:57 mark of the final half.
Northern Michigan would stretch the lead to 10 points again at 70-60 on the ensuing possession, but with 2:10 left in the game, Heath sank two free throws to cut the deficit to two possessions at 71-65. With the game still hanging in the balance at that point, the Wildcats sealed their win with back to back triples from Eddie Tornes. The six-point swing gave NMU a double digit lead again at 77-65 and that score would eventually become the final tally.
Monroe powered the Huskies with his fourth double-double of the season, generated by 24 points and 11 rebounds. Grazulis connected on 6 of 7 shots from the field and closed the contest with 13 points and nearly notched a double-double of his own with nine boards. Heath rounded out the double-digit scorers for Tech with 11 points.
The Huskies connected on 26 of 55 shots from the field (47.3%), were 3 of 15 from three-point range (20.0%), and 10 of 11 at the free throw line (90.9%). Tech out-rebounded Northern Michigan 35-33, but had 11 turnovers which led to 16 points for NMU. The Huskies only forced two miscues by the Wildcats' offense.
Northern Michigan was led by Naba Echols with 21 points followed by Tornes with 20 points off the bench. Isaiah Johnson tacked on 14 points and Taylor rounded out the double digit scorers with 11 points. Johnson ended up being NMU's top rebounder with nine boards in Sunday's game. The Wildcats were 30 of 66 shooting from the field (45.5%), 7 of 21 from behind the three-point arc (33.3%), and 10 of 17 at the free throw line (58.8%).
The Huskies will look to regroup on Tuesday night when they travel to Winona State (Minn.) for a non-conference contest prior to the Holiday break. The tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.