WINONA, Minn. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team fell for the first time in the 2019-20 season with a 62-59 non-conference loss at Winona State University Sunday afternoon. The Huskies trailed 32-23 at the break, but battled back to take the lead late in the second half. However, the Warriors connected on some key shots down the stretch to secure the decision in their favor.
"Credit goes to Winona State who hit a couple of deep and highly contested three-point shots down the stretch," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to convert on enough of our chances at the end. I thought we guarded and played defense well enough to win the game, but we have to do a better job of executing on offense early and in crunch time. I thought our guys battled hard and didn't quit and we'll look to get better this week as we get set to face a very good Minnesota Duluth team Saturday. They have a really nice club and it will be another great challenge for us. The games against these really good teams prepare us for what we'll see when we get into GLIAC play."
Winona State (1-3) struck first on Sunday when Devin Whitelow hit the first of 13 three-point shots in the game for the Warriors, who attempted 30 total in the contest. Michigan Tech (2-1) countered with an 8-0 scoring run to quickly surge in front. Senior Kyle Monroe delivered a triple of his own followed by a second long distance jumper to make it 6-3 with 16:08 to play in the first half. Monroe then capped it with a mid-range jumper at the 13:39 mark following a three-minute span of time without points for either side.
The Warriors then rallied to tie the game at 8-8 on a triple by Nick Klug and for the next few minutes the lead changed hands multiple times. In fact, there would be 16 lead changes before the final horn of Sunday's contest.
Trailing 19-18 with just over five minutes to go until the intermission, junior Dawson Bilski found the target from behind the arc to once again push the Huskies in front. Unfortunately, a 13-2 run by the Warriors is how the opening half came to a close. Kevion Taylor answered the Bilski trey with one of his own and it helped power Winona State to a 32-23 advantage at halftime.
Michigan Tech has been a strong second half team this season and that played out again on Sunday. The Huskies were able to erase their deficit and then some in the first few minutes of the second frame. Monroe got things rolling with a three-point basket and then sophomore Owen White recaptured the edge for Tech at 38-37 with 13:49 on the second half clock.
The back and forth pattern of the first half then returned for the remainder of the second half, with neither team owning a lead greater than four points. Taylor gave the Warriors the edge again 52-51 with 4:07 to play on another triple before Monroe and Bilski combined for five consecutive Tech points. Monroe connected on a mid-range jumper with 3:42 left and then Bilski fired in another three-point bucket to give the Huskies a 56-52 advantage again with 3:14 to go.
However, the Warriors stayed close and prevented Tech from creating any further separation. Winona State regained the lead at 60-59 with 37 seconds left on Taylor's fifth three-point basket of the game and then Whitelow added two points on a layup with nine seconds left. The Huskies had one more chance to tie the game, but a triple at the buzzer hit the right side of the rim as the horn sounded.
Monroe guided the Huskies with 28 points and six rebounds after firing in 12 of 22 shots from the field. Bilski followed with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals while White rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and five rebounds. Senior Tommy Lucca added four points and had a team high five steals and three assists. Junior Isaac Appleby chipped in three points, four rebounds, and two assists.
As a team, the Huskies made 24 of 61 shots from the field (39.3%), were 7 of 25 from three-point range (28.0%), and 4 for 6 at the free throw line (66.7%). Tech's defense forced 15 turnovers which led to 17 points on the offensive end of the floor.
Taylor powered the Warriors' offense with 15 points and five rebounds, with all the scoring being generated on shots from outside the arc. Luke Martens had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench followed by Whitelow who logged 11 points and six rebounds. Caleb Wagner chipped in four points and dished out a game high six assists. Winona State found success on 23 of 57 shots from the field (40.4%), were 13 of 30 on three-point attempts (43.3%), and 3 for 3 at the free throw line. The Warriors had 39-31 advantage in rebounding Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies are back on the court Saturday when they play their home opener against Minnesota Duluth at the SDC Gym. The tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. eastern time.