HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell in the 2018-19 home opener to Parkside 70-53 Thursday night in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest at the SDC Gym. The Huskies fell behind early and battled back to within 10 points in the second half, but the Rangers countered with a run of their own to pull away down the stretch.
"The second half was a little bit better, but we didn't execute offensively or defensively in the first half and got behind early," Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Our players didn't quit and we cut the deficit to 10 points with a chance to get it to single digits, but they hit a big three to stop the run. Credit goes to Parkside because they executed their systems well and were the better club tonight.
"We need to work on some things to get better and maybe this process is going to be a little more difficult than what I had in the game plan for us. Overall, we looked like a young and inexperienced team tonight. Our young players are getting it a little bit though and we have to stick with them."
Michigan Tech (4-4, 1-2 GLIAC) had a promising start when junior Ryan Schuller put the Huskies on the board with a layup to begin the game. The Tech defense then came up with a couple of stops before senior Bryan Heath found the bottom of the net on a triple to make it a 5-0 score with 18:34 on the clock.
Parkside (3-3, 2-1 GLIAC) would counter though with the next 10 points, starting with a layup courtesy of D'Aaron Owens at the 7:20 mark. Brandon Hau tied the contest with a triple and then baskets from Chavares Flanigan and Joe Borcia made it a 9-5 game. Brandon Trimble capped the run on a free throw to extend the Rangers lead to 10-5 with 12:52 to play until the break.
The Huskies battled back to draw within one thanks to solid play from freshman Owen White and sophomore Trent Bell. White sank two shots at the charity stripe and Bell followed that up with a defensive rebound and successful mid-range jumper on the offensive end of the floor. Bell's bucket made it a 10-9 contest with just under 12 minutes remaining on the first half clock.
Unfortunately, the Rangers would swing the momentum squarely in their favor with an 11-0 scoring surge over the next six minutes. Flanigan found the distance from three-point range to get it rolling and then Linwood Lee capped it with two free throws, giving Parkside a 21-9 advantage with 6:22 left in the first. The Rangers expanded the lead to 34-16 in the final minute of the opening half when Flanigan produced the final points on a traditional three-point play.
The Huskies faced an uphill battle, but didn't give up by making a bid to get back within striking distance midway through the second half. Trailing 46-24 with 13:19 on the clock, Tech engineered nine straight points to slice the deficit down to 46-33 at the 10:35 mark. White along with Bell and freshman Jake Witt powered the run, which culminated on a Witt layup.
Owens broke the scoreless streak for the Rangers momentarily with a three-point basket on the ensuing possession, but the Huskies reeled off eight of the next 10 points in the contest to pull within 10 at 51-41. Bell landed home a dunk and sophomore Dawson Bilski filled up two three pointers, putting Tech right back into contention with 7:22 to play.
However, just a few seconds later the Rangers shutdown the comeback bid, starting with another Flanigan trey. His basket kicked off a 10-0 Parkside run that created a 61-41 lead with 4:50 to go and put the game out of reach.
Bilski powered the Huskies offense with 16 points, connecting on 6 of 11 shots from the field with four of his makes coming from three-point land. Bilski also added three rebounds, a steal, and an assist. White followed with 11 points while Witt just missed double digit point totals with nine points and eight rebounds. Bell grabbed a team and career high 10 rebounds and nearly posted a double-double with eight points.
As a team, the Huskies were successful on 19 of 57 shots from the field (33.3%), connected on 5 of 16 chances from behind the arc (31.3%), and converted 10 of 11 opportunities at the charity stripe (90.9%). Tech out-rebounded Parkside 40-26 and in turn that helped lead to 14 second chance points Thursday night.
Flanigan poured in a game high 22 points for the Rangers, dialing in 8 of 10 shots from the floor. Brandon Trimble followed with 13 points while Hau chipped in nine points and a team high five rebounds. Parkside was on target with 26 of 52 shots from the field (50.0%), knocked down 9 of 18 attempts from long distance (50.0%), and went 9 of 11 at the free throw line (81.8%). The Rangers generated 21 points off of turnovers and posted 30 points in the paint.
The Huskies will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Purdue Northwest in another GLIAC showdown at the SDC Gym. The Pride fell to Northern Michigan in Marquette Thursday night 108-69. Saturday's tip-off is slated for 3 p.m.