WESTVILLE, Ind. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team held off Purdue Northwest for an 84-77 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory on the road Saturday afternoon. The Huskies owned the lead for over 38 minutes in the game, but the Pride remained within striking distance until the end.
"We knew Purdue Northwest was going to be tough and not quit," Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke said. "Credit goes to our players for hanging on in the end and making free throws along with some key shots down the stretch to keep the lead intact. I'm really happy for the guys that we were able to bounce back as we get ready to head back home for a tough series next weekend. It was a typical physical GLIAC game today and I thought our post players did a solid job slowing them down defensively while securing some key rebounds for us.
"It doesn't get any easier for us as we return home to play two more really good teams in Lake Superior State and Ferris State. We have to continue to get better in practice and a key component to having a successful season is being able to take care of business at home. We've played well at the SDC Gym this season and look forward to being back in front of our fans to face the Lakers and Bulldogs."
Michigan Tech (11-4, 5-2 GLIAC) struck first when junior Trent Bell bolted to the rim and hammered home a dunk 15 seconds into the contest. Purdue Northwest (6-10, 1-6 GLIAC) tied the game 2-2 with 19:09 to play in the half when Jyrus Freels found the bottom of the net on a jumper in the paint. The Huskies proceeded to record the next four points and regain the lead at 6-2, thanks to a jumper from sophomore Owen White and two free throws by senior Kyle Monroe.
Freels sparked a 4-0 run for the Pride on a layup and teammate Jordan Doss deadlocked the game at 6-6 with points in the paint at the 17:25 mark of the first half. However, Tech responded with an 8-0 scoring burst and established a lead for the rest of the game. Junior Dawson Bilski filled up a jump shot to make 8-6. He then followed with a triple and a layup, resulting in a 13-6 Huskies advantage at the 15:08 juncture of the opening half. Senior Ryan Schuller wrapped up the run by sinking a free throw attempt about 90 seconds later.
Although the Huskies would remain in front for the rest of the contest, Purdue Northwest would not make things easy on them. Timothy Gilmore found the target from downtown with 11:28 to go in the half, slicing Tech's advantage down to 14-12. It then became a one-point game at 16-15 on an Anthony Barnard trey with 9:15 to play until the intermission.
The Huskies then engineered another 8-0 scoring burst to create a more comfortable cushion on the scoreboard. Freshman Eric Carl got it rolling with two big triples off the bench followed by a fade away jumper from Bilski. The field goal by Bilski came with 7:11 on the first half clock and bumped Tech's lead to 24-15. Tech's advantage increased to double digits for the first time at 29-19 on a jumper from White with just under six minutes left in the half. It grew to as many as 13 points twice before settling in to a 38-28 lead for Tech at the intermission.
The Huskies largest lead of the night expanded to 15 points when Monroe stole the ball from Xavier Hallinan and cashed in a layup to make it 61-46 with 11:04 to go in the second half. The Pride then chipped away at their deficit and clawed back to within four points of the Huskies at 69-65 with 5:41 left. A conventional three-point play from Gabe Toombs made it just a two-possession game at that stage.
The Huskies bumped the advantage back to eight points at 73-65 on a conventional three-point play from Bilski with 4:49 remaining in the second half. However, Purdue Northwest was within four again at 81-77 on the strength of layup by Gilmore with 59 seconds to play. White then converted a key basket in the paint for the Huskies on the ensuing possession and a free throw by Monroe at the 14 second mark sealed the 84-77 win.
Monroe powered the Huskies' offense with 30 points followed by Bilski with 17 points and White with 15 points to round out the double-digit scorers. White secured a team high eight rebounds and Bell wasn't far behind in that category with seven boards. Carl had nine key points off the bench while sophomore TeeAaron Powell recorded seven boards as a reserve on Saturday. Junior Tommy Lucca dished out six assists, had four rebounds, and four points.
The Huskies made good on 33 of 65 shots from the field (50.8%), were 6 for 15 from three-point range (40.0%), and 12 for 18 at the charity stripe (66.7%). Tech out-rebounded the Pride 39-34, had 18 total assists, 17 points off 12 Pride turnovers, and 44 points in the paint.
Jyrus Freels closed the contest with a team high 19 points for Purdue Northwest followed by Anthony Barnard with 18 points and a game high nine rebounds. Gilmore collected 18 points for the Pride on Saturday as well. Purdue Northwest sent in 27 of 61 shots from the field (44.3%), made 7 of 18 looks from three-point range (38.9%), and 16 of 22 opportunities at the free throw line (72.7%).
The Huskies return home for two more GLIAC games next week, beginning Thursday night against Lake Superior State followed by Ferris State on Saturday. Thursday's tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.