MTU Men's Basketball makes strong comeback over Alaska

By  | 

ANCHORAGE, Ak. The Michigan Tech men's basketball team engineered a second half rally for the second straight night on the way to a 65-57 non-conference win against Alaska Fairbanks on day two of the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Alaska Anchorage. The Huskies trailed 38-26 at the break before outscoring the Nanooks 39-19 in the final 20 minutes for their fourth overall win of the season.

"It's definitely a sign of a good team to be able to battle back like we were able to do tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We took them a little lightly and got off to a slow start at the beginning, which forced us to have to play catchup. In the second half, I thought our defense did an excellent job of shutting them down and our offense made some huge plays for us to complete the comeback. I also thought Carter Johnston stepped up big for us tonight and made some key plays in crucial situations. It was great to get two wins this weekend as we prepare to open conference play against Saginaw Valley State and Northwood this week."

Michigan Tech (4-2) got the upper hand early in the first half when sophomore Owen White fired in a triple to make it 3-0 just over a minute into the contest. Senior Kyle Monroe followed with a layup and then added a three-point basket of his own with 17:23 left in the half, pushing Tech's lead to 8-3 at that point in the contest.

The Huskies continued to maintain the advantage at 15-11 over Alaska Fairbanks (1-7) following a conventional three-point play from senior Ryan Schuller with 14:32 to go until the intermission. Unfortunately, the Nanooks went on an 11-0 scoring burst over the next seven minutes to build a 22-15 lead with 7:07 on the clock. Alaska Fairbanks generated the final points of the half when Shadeed Shabazz cut to the basket for a layup right before the horn sounded to make it a 38-26 score in favor of the Nanooks with 20 minutes in the books.

The Nanooks created their biggest lead of the night at the outset of the second half when Alex Sommerfield connected from long distance, increasing the gap to 41-26. However, the Huskies were able to buckle down and began to chip away at the deficit. Sophomore Carter Johnston brought Tech to within single digits again at 45-36 on a layup midway through the final period.

Junior Dawson Bilski began what would become a 14-0 run on a three-point field goal at the 13:10 mark of the second half and culminated with a game tying triple out of the hand of White with 8:52 to play in the contest. With the game deadlocked at 45-45, Alaska Fairbanks regained the lead at 47-45 on two free throws by Shabazz. It didn't last long though as the Huskies quickly answered with 14 consecutive points to go up 59-47 with just 2:23 remaining in Saturday night's game.

An Owen White trey gave Tech the lead for good and jump started the scoring burst which propelled the Huskies to the eventual win. Monroe finished off the run at the free throw line where he converted on two attempts, extending the advantage to 59-47. Senior Tommy Lucca gave the Huskies their largest lead of the evening at 65-51 on a free throw in the final minute. The Nanooks produced the final six points of the game, but it was too little too late.

Saturday's win for Tech was the second of the weekend after the Huskies rallied for an 83-80 victory on day one of the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic Friday night against Alaska Anchorage.

The Huskies had four players with 10 points or more, paced by Bilski with 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Monroe followed with 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists while White and junior Isaac Appleby chipped in with 10 points apiece. Lucca tacked on six points and distributed a game high nine assists for the Huskies who ended the night with 21 total as a team. Monroe and Bilski shared the team lead in rebounds.

The Huskies made 24 of 52 total shots from the field (46.2%), were 8 for 18 from three-point range (44.4%), and 9 of 12 at the free throw line (75.0%). Tech forced 16 Alaska Fairbanks turnovers which led to 22 points on the offensive end of the floor. The Huskies also outscored the Nanooks in the points in the paint category 30-16.

Shabazz posted a game high 20 points for Alaska Fairbanks followed by Koby Huerta with 15 points Saturday evening. Spencer Sweet produced eight points and Mawich Kachjaani added six points and seven boards. The Nanooks were limited by Tech's defense to a 17 for 52 shooting night from the field (32.7%), were 9 of 25 from three-point land (36.0%), and 14 for 17 at the free throw line (82.4%). Alaska Fairbanks had the advantage in rebounding 36-27 in the contest.

The Huskies will be back on the court Thursday night when they open the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule against Saginaw Valley State. The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.