MTU Men race past Rangers

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HOUGHTON, Mi. The Michigan Tech men's basketball team cruised to a 79-55 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Parkside Saturday afternoon at the SDC Gym. The Huskies opened the game with a 16-6 run and went on to fire in over 56 percent of their shots from the field against the Rangers.

"I was really happy with the way our players came out and defended, played Tech basketball, and got to the rim," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We shot the ball extremely well in the first half and I thought our offense was very fluid throughout the game. Defensively, it was key for us to keep their post players a little off balance and I thought we were able to do that. Our players gave a great effort and I'm very pleased with how we defended against a good Parkside club.

"It is very difficult to be successful on the road in the GLIAC and we face two more really good teams in Ferris State and Lake Superior State next weekend. We play Ferris State first on Thursday and they'll be ready to go after we defeated them here earlier this season. The Lakers are tough to play in their gym and are well coached so we'll get ready to go on the road for two more GLIAC battles Thursday and Saturday."

Michigan Tech (16-7, 10-5 GLIAC) struck first in Saturday's game when sophomore Owen White went to the rim for a layup just over a minute into the action. Parkside (10-13, 6-9 GLIAC) countered when Joey St. Pierre converted on a conventional three-point play on the Rangers ensuing possession to make it a 3-2 score with 18:33 showing on the clock.

The two sides traded baskets over the next few minutes, but the Huskies maintained a 7-6 edge with 15:37 to go in the first half. Tech then began to heat up from behind the arc when senior Kyle Monroe hoisted in two triples followed by a trey from junior Dawson Bilski, extending the advantage to 16-6 with 13:43 remaining in the first half.

The Rangers got back to within three points at 24-21 on a Linwood Lee three-point bucket at the 7:04 mark of the first. However, Tech bounced back with three consecutive layups courtesy of Monroe and White to push the gap out to nine points at 30-21 with just under six minutes to go until the intermission.

Still leading 32-26 with under four minutes left in the first, the Huskies generated the next seven points to lead 39-26, culminating on another Bilski triple. Solomon Oraegbu responded for Parkside from behind the arc, but Bilski and freshman Eric Carl closed the half strong for Tech with back-to-back treys to make it a 45-29 contest at the break.

Tech's offense and defense continued to fire on all cylinders as the second half progressed. With the combination of the two, the Huskies put more and more distance between themselves and the Rangers as time ticked off the clock. Sophomore Carter Johnston gave the Huskies their largest lead of the afternoon at 29 points, when he filled up a three-point basket with just over four minutes to go in the contest. The triple by Johnston made the score 73-44 at that juncture. Johnston along with freshman Tyler Robarge teamed up to provide the final four points of the game and generate the final tally of 79-55.

Bilski turned in another strong performance for the Huskies on Saturday, producing a game high 23 points. He also added three rebounds and a pair of steals to the stat sheet. Bilski opened the week with 26 points in Tech's 82-72 victory over Purdue Northwest Thursday night. Monroe followed with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals while White rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 points. Carl had eight points and junior Isaac Appleby chipped in five points and grabbed a team high eight rebounds.

The Huskies found the target on 32 of 57 shots from the field (56.1%), were 13 for 22 from three-point range (59.1%), and 2 for 2 at the free throw line (100.0%). Tech out-rebounded Parkside 29-27, combined for 19 assists, and forced 14 turnovers which led to 20 points on the offensive end of the floor. The Huskies also recorded 32 points in the paint.

St. Pierre had a team high 13 points for the Rangers followed by Vinson Sigmon Jr. with nine points and a team high seven rebounds off the bench. Oraegbu joined Sigmon Jr. with nine points on the stat sheet as well. As a team, the Rangers made 19 of 48 shots from the field (39.6%), were 7 of 15 from long distance (46.7%), and 10 of 14 at the charity stripe (71.4%).

The Huskies are back on the road Thursday when they travel to play Ferris State for the second time this season. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern time.