Tech Men can't contain Northwood's offense

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HOUGHTON, Mi. The Michigan Tech men's basketball team suffered an 83-73 setback against Northwood at home Thursday night in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest at the SDC Gym. The Huskies remained within striking distance of the Timberwolves throughout the night, but were unable to come up with a momentum changing run to grab the lead.

"Northwood executed their offense better than we did ours on defense," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "They ran great ball screen action and we struggled to slow them down. We played hard and didn't let them get away from us, but every time we cut it down to single digits we seemed to make some crucial fundamental mistakes. Northwood is a good club and you can't afford to make those types of errors. Credit to them for being able to execute and make the plays that they needed to. The GLIAC is a tough league and we'll prepare to face Saginaw Valley State on Saturday. We are at home, have a lot to fight for, and we have to come out and be ready to play."

Northwood (11-11, 8-6 GLIAC) secured the first bucket of the night when Ja'Kavien Lewis cut to the hoop to make it 2-0 in the first 30 seconds. Michigan Tech (10-11, 5-9 GLIAC) countered on a triple by junior Trent Bell to go up 3-2 with 19:01 to play in the first half. Unfortunately, Lewis would strike again on the ensuing possession for the Timberwolves, logging two more points in the paint and a 4-3 Northwood lead.

The Huskies kept the separation at two possessions until a triple by Lewis at the 15:06 mark of the opening frame made it a 14-7 score. Fortunately, senior Bryan Heath sank two free throws to cut it back to 14-9 the next time the Huskies got their hands on the ball. Over the next few minutes, Northwood's lead fluctuated between two and three possessions.

Trailing 23-16 with just under 10 minutes to go until the break, freshman Owen White provided an offensive spark for the Huskies. White delivered a free throw followed by back to back layups which cut the gap down to two points at 23-21 with 8:31 on the clock. Both sides traded baskets before a quick 4-0 scoring burst by the Timberwolves increased their lead out to six points again at 29-23 with 6:03 remaining in the first.

Northwood eventually went up by 10 points at 37-27 on a Lewis layup late in the half, but the Huskies battled back in the final two minutes to keep it close and pull some of the momentum back in their direction. White drove to the basket for another layup and then freshman Jake Witt capped the half with a layup of his own in the final seconds to make it a 37-31 ballgame at the intermission.

Unfortunately, the first seven points of the second period went in the direction of Northwood. Zach Allread sank a pair of chances at the charity stripe to boost the Timberwolves lead up to 44-31 with 17:28 to go. Northwood then maintained a double digit advantage throughout the majority of the second half. White sliced the lead to eight at 63-55 with under seven minutes to play, but a 6-0 run by the Timberwolves didn't keep it in the single digit range for long.

Danny Kolp eventually gave the Timberwolves their biggest lead of the evening at 71-56 on a layup at the 5:03 mark of the second half. Sophomore Dawson Bilski filled up a triple for the Huskies with 1:33 left in the second to make it 79-70, but it was too little too late. Northwood recorded four of the game's final seven points to hold off Tech for the win.

White had a season high 17 points to power the Tech offense Thursday night against Northwood. His previous high was 16 points, which has occurred twice this season against Purdue Northwest on December 8th and Grand Valley State on January 17th. Bilski followed with 16 points and Heath rounded out the double digit scorers with 11 points. Freshman Carter Johnston dished out a team high five assists and grabbed a season best seven rebounds. Sophomore Trent Bell chipped in nine points and junior Ryan Schuller posted a season high eight points.

In terms of the team numbers, the Huskies had success on 29 of 61 shots from the field (47.5%), were 3 for 16 from three-point land (18.8%), and 12 of 21 at the free throw line (57.1%). Tech generated 44 points in the paint and created 12 points off of 11 Northwood turnovers.

Lewis paced the Timberwolves in scoring with a game high 19 points and nine assists followed by Alec Marty with 18 points. David Jelinek tacked on 14 points and led Northwood on the glass with nine rebounds. The Timberwolves found the bottom of the net on 31 of 66 shots from the field (47.0%), were 8 of 22 from behind the arc (36.4%), and 13 of 17 at the charity stripe (76.5%).

The Huskies will look to get back on track Saturday when they host Saginaw Valley State at the SDC Gym. The Cardinals lost at Northern Michigan 87-73 Thursday night. Saturday's tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. eastern time.