MIDLAND, Mi. The Michigan Tech men's basketball team engineered a late rally, but it wasn't enough to overtake Northwood University in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference showdown Thursday night on the road. The Timberwolves scored the first 13 points of the night and led by as many as 24 points in the second half before the Huskies clawed back into contention late. Unfortunately, Northwood held off the charge to prevail 68-63 over Tech.
"Credit to Northwood because they played better and harder than us tonight and we struggled to execute both offensively and defensively," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We got ourselves to a point where we calmed down a little bit in the second half and got back in it, but failed to capitalize on some opportunities late in the game. I was proud that our guys didn't quit and kept battling to close the gap and give ourselves a chance. We just have to figure out a way to get over the hump in these types of games.
"We have to learn from this game tonight as we get set to face another solid team in Saginaw Valley State on Saturday. In the GLIAC, anybody can beat anybody on any given night so we have to be ready to go at the outset Saturday."
Northwood (10-10, 5-7 GLIAC) broke through for the first points of the game when Danny Kolp dialed in a three-point field goal just over a minute into the action. The basket sparked the 13-0 scoring run for the Timberwolves that culminated on a layup from Trey McBride at the 16-minute mark of the opening half. Michigan Tech (14-6, 8-4 GLIAC) ended the initial drought when sophomore Owen White worked his way into the paint for a layup off an assist from junior Isaac Appleby.
Unfortunately, the Timberwolves continued to hit shots and thus created a larger gap. Junior Trent Bell made good on a free throw for the Huskies with 10:41 left in the first and at that point the Northwood lead stood at 26-10. The Timberwolves then proceeded to reel off the next seven points to go up 33-10 with 8:13 to go until the intermission. Junior Dawson Bilski along with sophomore TeeAaron Powell combined to generate nine points for Tech and with 4:58 left in the half, the Huskies faced a 36-19 deficit. Both offenses went cold until the end of the period and Northwood eventually carried a 39-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Timberwolves built their largest advantage of the night with just under 17 minutes to go in the game when Ja'Kavien Lewis hoisted in a three-point bucket to make it 45-21. The Huskies hung in there and quietly chipped away at the deficit throughout the second half. Trailing 61-45 with 4:57 remaining, Appleby initiated an 8-0 run to draw the Huskies within single digits for the first time since early in the evening. Appleby got things rolling with a trey followed by two Bilski free throws and another Appleby triple cut Northwood's advantage to 61-53.
Tech then had a couple of turnovers and a three-point basket that appeared to be in and popped out with about two minutes remaining. The Timberwolves were able to take advantage with the next three points on a layup and free throw by Lewis to make it 64-53. Appleby answered with another triple but the Timberwolves countered again with three more points to keep the lead at double digits. The Huskies notched seven points in the final 30 seconds, but it wasn't quite enough as time ran out with Northwood still in front 68-63.
Appleby guided the Huskies with 12 points and matched a career high with 12 rebounds in Thursday night's game. Appleby' previous season high was 11 rebounds at Davenport last Saturday and the other time he reached 12 boards was at home versus Lake Superior State on February 17, 2018. Senior Kyle Monroe followed with 11 points and eight rebounds while White chipped in 11 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three shots. White, Monroe, and Appleby paced Tech in the assist category with two apiece.
As a team, the Huskies found the target on 23 of 61 shots from the field (37.7%), were 7 for 23 from three-point range (30.4%), and 10 of 14 at the free throw line (71.4%). Tech had 24 points in the paint and seven second chance points off of seven offensive rebounds.
Northwood was guided by Lewis who had a game high 17 points followed by Trey McBride with 12 points. Kolp logged seven points and pulled down a team best nine rebounds. The Timberwolves had 11 different players score points in Thursday night's contest. Northwood fired in 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9%), were 6 of 16 from three-point range (37.5%), and 12 of 23 at the charity stripe (52.2%).
The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday when they travel to Saginaw Valley State to wrap up the four-game road trip. The tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. eastern time.