ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to record an 83-80 non-conference victory at Alaska Anchorage Friday night in game one of the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic. Sophomore Owen White gave the Huskies the lead with less than 15 seconds to play and then blocked a shot on the ensuing Alaska Anchorage possession to seal the win for Tech.
"We competed against a great Alaska Anchorage team who plays extremely well in their arena," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "We made some big plays at crucial times and I'm proud of our players and the effort they gave to produce a key win for us tonight. I thought we defended well and had multiple players step up for us throughout the game, especially in the second half. We'll rest up tonight and get ready to face another solid Alaska Fairbanks team tomorrow."
Michigan Tech (3-2) jumped in front early Friday night when senior Kyle Monroe picked up a steal and turned it into a layup on the offensive end of the floor for a 2-0 Huskies lead with just over a minute gone by in the first half. Tech's advantage then grew to 8-3 when senior Ryan Schuller hammered home a dunk at the 15:57 mark of the opening frame.
The gap expanded to 19-10 Tech with 9:39 to play in the half on a triple from freshman Eric Carl and then with 6:48 to play until the break, senior Tommy Lucca gave the Huskies their largest lead of the night at 27-17 thanks to a trey of his own. Unfortunately, an Alaska Anchorage (5-2) surge late in the half pushed the Seawolves in front with 3:28 left. Jack Macdonald found the target from long distance to make it a 31-30 lead for the Seawolves.
The Huskies regained the edge momentarily at 33-31 on another three-point bucket by Lucca, but a quick 5-0 run by the Seawolves tipped the scales in their favor at 36-33 on a long-distance jumper by Tyler Brimhall with just under two minutes to play until the intermission. Alaska Anchorage eventually took a 41-37 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Seawolves maintained the lead for the majority of the second half and went up by as many as 11 points in the final period. Niko Bevins boosted the gap in favor of Alaska Anchorage to 67-56 with 10:10 to go in Friday night's contest.
The Huskies were then able to dig in and chipped away at the deficit over the next few minutes. Sophomore Owen White drew the Huskies back to within one-point at 72-71 on the strength of a layup with 5:59 showing on the clock. Monroe then vaulted the Huskies back in front 76-75 on a layup with 4:31 to play.
The Seawolves countered with a 5-0 run to take an 80-76 lead with 1:47 to go, culminating on an Oggie Pantovic layup. However, Lucca had the answer for Tech just over a minute later, firing in a triple to slice the margin back to one at 80-79. Tech's defense then created a turnover via a steal by Monroe which resulted in the go ahead bucket by White with 12 seconds remaining to make it 81-80 Huskies. White then blocked a final shot attempt from Deandre Osuigwe with a second to play and secured the defensive rebound. White was immediately fouled and capped the victory with two free throws at the charity stripe, resulting in the final tally of 83-80.
Monroe paced the Huskies with a game high 26 points while adding five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a blocked shot. Lucca followed with 16 points, five rebounds, and a team high eight assists while White rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points, three assists, and the key block at the end of the game. Schuller along with junior Dawson Bilski each chipped in nine points in Friday's win.
The Huskies knocked down 29 of 54 shots from the field (53.7%), were 9 of 21 from three-point range (42.9%), and 16 of 17 at the free throw line (94.1%). The defense forced 13 turnovers which led to 17 points on the offensive end of the floor. In addition, Tech produced 30 points in the paint against the Seawolves.
Pantovic had 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench to power Alaska Anchorage Friday evening. Bevens ended the night with 12 points while Amari Hale and Tyrus Hosley tacked on 11 points apiece. Osuigwe chipped in nine points and distributed a team high six assists. The Seawolves converted on 30 of 58 shots from the field (51.7%), were 14 of 26 from three-point range (53.8%), and 6 of 11 on chances at the free throw line (54.5%). Alaska Anchorage had a slight 28-27 edge in rebounds in Friday's game.
The Huskies will be back on the court Saturday night for day two of the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic against Alaska Fairbanks in Anchorage. The tip-off is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. eastern time.