BIG?RAPIDS - In basketball, there are some players who, every now and then, can find the surge of energy and focus to keep their team on the winning side no matter the opponent and no matter the circumstances.
Thursday night at Ferris State, that was Ben Stelzer.
The Michigan Tech men's basketball junior shooting guard poured in 13 points in the final five minutes against the Bulldogs - with 24 for the game on 7-of-13 shooting - to hold off a last-ditch Ferris run and shoot the Huskies to a crucial 78-72 GLIAC win.
"Ben just willed us to victory tonight," Tech coach Kevin Luke said in a phone interview. "It was his night to take over tonight. And he did."
Ferris threw everything they could think of at the 6-foot shooting guard, switching on every screen and hounding him off every pick.
It didn't matter.
Stelzer found a way to the ball time and again with just enough space to get his lethal jumper off.
He hit a three with 40 seconds to play that turned a three-point lead into a six-point margin and was fouled on a three-pointer when Jibreel Jackson took the "anything to stop Stelzer" mantra too far a few minutes before. He sank all three free throws.
"He just kept moving," Luke said. "They were switching, grabbing, pulling, and he just kept moving. He got the ball and was fouled or he got it and shot it."
With a quiet game from Austin Armga - 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting - Stelzer was supplemented Thursday by an uber-efficient bench.
Jordan Chartier hit a trio of triples to put up 11 points in 23 minutes while Jason Hawke knocked down 3-of-5 shots for 10 points of his own.
Sophomore Kyle Stankowski put in a workmanlike shift as well, coming up with six points and five rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.
"Stankowski grabbed some good rebounds," Luke said. "And Chartier and Hawke played really well offensively, like they can."
Tech recovered from a sloppy first half but did not take the lead for good until there was less than four minutes remaining in the contest.
Luke was impressed with the focus his guys showed down the stretch playing in their fourth game in eight days.
With Northwood losing to Wayne State Thursday, the win moves Tech into a tie for second in the North Divison, trailing league-leading Lake Superior State by two games.
"We struggled down here last year, and we had a very sluggish start," Luke said. "But to overcome it is a good sign, and its huge because we chalk it up in the proper column."