HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team opened the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule with an impressive 79-57 victory over Saginaw Valley State Thursday night in the SDC Gym. The Huskies grabbed the lead early and never looked back, outscoring the Cardinals 41-27 in the first half to establish the foothold in Thursday's contest.
"Saginaw Valley State is a very athletic team that is disciplined offensively and defensively, but credit goes to our players for a great effort tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought we did a really nice job of defending their perimeter players and to hold them to 57 points was outstanding. On offense, we are playing well inside out and our guys connected on shots tonight which made things much smoother. We played with a lot of energy tonight and we were excited to be out on our home court. We really competed hard and I'm proud of our effort against a very good Saginaw Valley State team.
"Northwood defeated Northern Michigan tonight on the road and they have solid players at each spot in the lineup. They are a good club and we have to be sharp again and play at the same level as we did tonight in order to give ourselves a chance to secure another win Saturday."
Saginaw Valley State (4-3, 0-1 GLIAC) scored the first bucket of the night on a layup by Myles Belyeu in the opening 30 seconds of the game, but the two-point lead would be the only one for the Cardinals. Michigan Tech (5-2, 1-0 GLIAC) quickly turned the tide with an 8-0 scoring run to go up 8-2 with 17:11 left in the first half. Sophomore Owen White secured the first two points for the Huskies on a layup followed by a triple from senior Kyle Monroe. Junior Trent Bell hoisted in another trey for Tech to cap the scoring burst.
The Huskies bumped the lead to 13-5 on a jumper from Monroe with just over 15 minutes to play in the first half before the Cardinals climbed back to within four points at 16-12 on a layup from Belyeu with 13:12 on the first half clock. White and Monroe teamed up for back-to-back triples again, resulting in the first double-digit advantage of the night for the Huskies at 22-12 with 12:07 to play until the break.
The Huskies opened up a 16-point gap at 30-14 thanks to a conventional three-point play from White with 12 minutes gone by in the opening half. Tech led by as many as 19 points in the first half on two occasions before taking a 41-27 lead into the locker room at intermission. Monroe closed the first period with a pair of three throws with 31 seconds on the clock.
Saginaw Valley State trimmed Tech's advantage back to 12 points at 44-32 on a Malik Ellison layup at the 18:35 mark of the second frame, but that's as close as the Cardinals would get the rest of the way. Junior Isaac Appleby found the bottom of the net from long distance with 14:44 to play, giving the Huskies their first 20-point lead of the evening at 53-33. The biggest gap of the contest was 22-points which occurred for the first time on a conventional three-point play from junior Dawson Bilski. Bilski's jumper in the paint combined with the free throw made it a 66-44 score with 6:03 to go. Tech maintained the 22-point separation when the final horn sounded.
Monroe guided the Huskies' offense with 24 points and four assists while securing 11 rebounds and a pair of steals. Bilski followed with 13 points, Bell tossed in 12 points, and White rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points. Appleby chipped in eight points and hauled down nine rebounds while senior Tommy Lucca ended the game with seven assists.
The Huskies knocked down 29 of 58 shots from the field (50.0%), were 15 of 31 from three-point land (48.4%), and 6 of 8 at the free throw line (75.0%). Tech out-rebounded Saginaw Valley State 39-32 and dished out 22 combined assists over the course of 40 minutes. The Huskies generated 24 of their points inside the paint against the Cardinals.
Ellison posted a team high 24 points for the Cardinals followed by Belyeu with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Darnell Hoskins Jr. added nine points and James Toohey chipped in eight points for Saginaw Valley State. Tech's defense limited the Cardinals to a 20 for 56 shooting effort from the field (35.7%), were 9 for 23 from long distance (39.1%), and 9 of 14 at the free throw line (57.1%).
The Huskies return to the court on Saturday when they host Northwood on Econo Foods Kids Day at the SDC Gym. The Timberwolves defeated Northern Michigan Thursday night in their GLIAC opener 53-50. Saturday's tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. eastern time.