HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - The Michigan Tech men's basketball team held off Davenport University for a 73-63 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win Thursday night in the SDC Gym.
The Huskies, ranked No. 8 in the NCAA Midwest Region Poll, clinched a home game in the quarterfinal round of the GLIAC Tournament with the victory over the Panthers. Tech resides in second place in the North Division and is third in the overall standings with two games remaining on the regular season schedule.
"It was a very good win tonight against a very good club," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "It was a game of runs with both teams putting together strong scoring stretches. We would build a lead and they would battle back to make it close and that continued throughout the course of the contest. Thankfully, we put together a big scoring run in crunch time to get the win. I thought Isaac Appleby made a huge impact with two key three-point baskets late in the game. It was a great hard-fought team win.
"We'll get ready to play another very good team in Grand Valley State on Saturday. It was a tough game at their place earlier this season where we let one get away from us. The Lakers are well balanced and it will take an outstanding effort, but our guys have it in them and we are playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Michigan Tech (18-8, 12-6 GLIAC) got on the board first Thursday night when senior Kyle Monroe connected on a jumper in the lane for a 2-0 lead. Davenport (19-9, 11-7 GLIAC) countered though with the next six points, culminating on a Tafari Beckford layup to make it a 6-2 score with 17:26 showing on the first half clock. The Huskies pulled even at 6-6 about 90 seconds later on a layup from senior Ryan Schuller, but shortly thereafter a conventional three-point play from Chris Rollins extended the Panthers lead to five points at 11-6.
Trailing 15-12 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the half, the Huskies recaptured the lead thanks to a quick 6-0 scoring run. Monroe started it with a mid-range jumper followed by a triple from junior Trent Bell and a free throw courtesy of Monroe. Tech remained on top for the rest of the half and bumped the lead to seven points twice prior to opening up a nine-point gap at 33-24 in the final minute. Junior Isaac Appleby found the target on a mid-range jump shot to close out the scoring and the Huskies carried that nine-point edge into the locker room at intermission.
The Panthers would not go away quietly and with just over 15 minutes to play in the contest, tied the score at 38-38 on a trio of free throws from Robbie Bramhill. However, the Huskies were able to put a stop to the run and engineered a scoring burst of their own. Appleby sent the Huskies back in front 40-38 on a jumper and that basket ignited a stretch of 11 straight points. The run culminated on a trey from Monroe to grant the Huskies their largest lead of the night at 49-38 with 12:55 left on the second half clock.
Unfortunately, about four minutes later Davenport knotted the score again at 51-51 thanks to a pair of free throws from Chris Rollins. Tech had the answer once again though in the form of nine straight points to go up 60-51 with 5:25 to play. A triple by junior Dawson Bilski capped the scoring burst by the Huskies.
Davenport put together one final charge to get back within striking distance at 62-57. Two Bramhill free throws were the catalyst in making it a two-possession game once again. Tech sealed the win in the next 90 seconds when Monroe converted two free throws followed by two huge three-point buckets out of the hand of Appleby. The second of the two went through the cylinder with just over a minute to play, making it a 70-59 score. The Panthers could get no closer than nine points in the final minute.
Monroe powered the Huskies with a game high 29 points and 10 rebounds followed by Appleby with 16 points, five rebounds, a team high three assists, and two blocked shots. Sophomore Owen White tossed in seven points followed by Bilski and freshman Eric Carl with six points each. The Huskies ended the night making 24 of 59 shots from the field (40.7%), were 9 for 29 from three-point range (31.0%), and 16 of 18 at the charity stripe (88.9%). Tech combined for 11 assists, had 20 points in the paint, and generated 10 points off 12 Davenport turnovers.
The Panthers were paced by Hines with 17 points and 11 rebounds followed by Beckford with 15 points. Rollins recorded 11 points and Chris Pearl rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. Davenport found success on 20 of 53 attempts from the field (37.7%), were just 1 for 13 from long distance (7.7%), and 22 of 28 at the free throw line (78.6%). The Panthers had a slight edge in rebounding 37-34 while recording 36 points in the paint.
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday when they host No. 21 Grand Valley State for Senior Day. The tip-off is slated for 3 p.m. eastern time.