HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men's basketball team defeated Saginaw Valley State 75-56 Tuesday (March 3) at the SDC Gym in a GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal game. The Huskies were led in scoring by Owen White with 22 points. Kyle Monroe had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Trent Bell (14 points), and Dawson Bilski (10 points) also hit double figures.
"It's tournament time," Tech coach Kevin Luke said. "I thought Saginaw Valley played really well, but you have to credit our defense. We held their good players under their averages.
"Our offense struggled a bit in the first half and in the second half when we weren't aggressive. It was the exact game that we had down there, and tonight we were able to finish strong and get the job done."
Midway through the first half, the Cardinals held a 21-18 lead. The Huskies managed the Cardinals' defensive pressure and went on an 18-7 run to end the half and take a 36-28 lead.
The Huskies continued to build on the lead early in the second half, taking a 14-point advantage after a layup by Monroe 4:00 after halftime. A three-pointer by Eric Carl pushed the margin to 17 before SVSU started to chip away.
The Cardinals made it an eight-point game at 64-56 with 3:51 remaining after a jumper by Myles Belyeu, a three-pointer off the fingertips of Darnell Hoskins, Jr., and a layup and a pair of free throws by Malik Ellison.
Tech locked down on defense after that, not allowing another Cardinal point for the rest of the game. The Huskies hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch and also got layups by White and Bilski to close on a 9-0 run and advance to the GLIAC Semifinal for the third time in the last four years.
"We pushed through some sloppy play in the first half," White said. "They make it ugly with their tough defense. We guarded them so well in the second half and that was the difference."
The Huskies shot 45.5 percent from the field, hitting 25-for-55 and 9-for-24 from beyond the arc. They also made 16-for-20 from the charity stripe for 80 percent. Tech outrebounded the Cardinals 39-32 and had 16 assists to only six for the visitors.
Monroe scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half with nine coming from the free throw line. He tied a career-high with seven assists and tied a season-high with 12 rebounds. Bell scored his points with four three-pointers and a pair of free throws.
"It's fun when Trent's hitting threes," said White. "He hit two of his first three today and hit a couple more later in the game. Having him outside to shoot is huge and helps open up the inside."
"I thought Owen was outstanding both offensively and defensively," added Luke. "Saginaw did a nice job on Kyle tonight, but we need to do a better job getting him the ball. It's also really nice when Trent spreads that court for us with his shooting."
SVSU (16-13) was led in scoring by Ellison and Belyeu with 16 points each. Ellison added 10 rebounds for a double-double and Hoskins chipped in with 11 points. The Cardinals were held to 32.7 percent shooting.
Tech improved to 21-8 overall and now plays at No. 2 seed Grand Valley State in the GLIAC Semifinals in Allendale Saturday at 1 p.m. eastern time. No. 4 Northwood and No. 8 Northern Michigan will meet in the other semifinal. The Lakers defeated Ashland, the Timberwolves defeated Davenport, and the Wildcats upset top seed Ferris State.
"We've beaten everyone in the tournament," added White. "It's going to be a battle either way. With the way we can shoot the ball, and if we defend and decide to play basketball the way we can, we'll be alright."