Tech returns to form in win over SVSU
HOUGHTON — Members of the Michigan Tech Huskies used the words “disappointing” and “embarrassed” to describe Thursday’s 68-47 loss to the Wayne State Warriors. But Saturday’s 66-60 bounce-back victory over the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals at the Wood Gym was an inspired display of grit that was more indicative of the 2016-17 season.
Sophomore Bryan Heath led Tech (14-11, 12-6) with 18 points, while senior Jordan Chartier added 16 for a Huskies team that clinched a berth in the GLIAC Tournament with the win.
“I think everybody was not very happy,” Heath said about the loss on Thursday. “I know me, personally, I didn’t sleep very well Thursday night; I didn’t get much sleep at all and was not happy coming to practice on Friday.
“I think we just all came out with that fire from that game and that’s what pushed us today, being ready to go.”
The 1,071 in attendance saw a grind-it-out, physical, halfcourt battle as each team struggled from the field — Michigan Tech shot 23 of 54 (43 percent) and SVSU was 22 of 55 (40 percent). But that type of slower tempo benefited the Huskies, who were able to negate SVSU’s athleticism in the open court for much of the afternoon.
“I feel like we’re more like us now than we were Thursday, or in overtime against Lake Superior State,” Tech head coach Kevin Luke said, referencing the 98-84 overtime loss at LSSU on Feb. 4. “I liked the way we helped each other out (on defense). I thought we gave ourselves a chance… We did what we had to do in the crunch-time situations, and I’m happy for them.”
After both offense’s slogged their way through the first 20 minutes, Tech led 23-22 at halftime. However, the Huskies were finally able to find some offensive efficiency for the first time this weekend, shooting 14 of 25 in the second half (56 percent), while SVSU (15-10, 8-10) continued to struggle, going 13 of 33 (39 percent).
It was a few offensive scoring bursts that made the difference, and they came with the help of the top two scorers.
With 5 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, Tech went on an 11-4 run to take a 60-49 lead. Heath started the rally with a catch-and-shoot 3 off a pass from freshman Tommy Lucca. On Tech’s next possession, sophomore Kyle Monroe swished a corner 3 on another assist from Lucca for a 55-45 edge.
Heath’s 3 was his third of the game on five attempts, and his 18 points are his most since scoring 18 in a 80-78 loss to Kentucky Wesleyan on Dec. 31. He’s also in the midst of a solid stretch from 3; in his last five games, he’s shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range (52 percent).
“I think it’s a lot of the confidence the other kids have been giving me,” Heath said about his recent shooting success. “I know if I miss a couple and look down, Jordan will look at me and say, ‘Hey! Shoot the ball! Don’t worry about it.’
“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me, and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s gotten me out of the slump that I was in.”
The senior leader who implores Heath to shoot was the one who put the finishing touches on the game-deciding 11-4 run, as Chartier knocked down a corner 3 and converted in the lane for a 60-49 Tech lead with 2:52 left.
Chartier epitomized the bounce-back win by scoring his 16 on 5 of 7 shooting after having his first scoreless game of the season against Wayne State, finishing 0 for 7 in the loss.
“On Thursday, I don’t think that I was lacking confidence. The shots still felt good, except for the last airball,” Chartier said. “They were still feeling good. (Today) was more letting the game come to me and not forcing anything. My teammates do a good job of getting me open and getting me the ball. Just have to knock down shots from there.”
SVSU senior C.J. Turnage led the Cardinals (15-10, 8-10) with 14 points.
Tech goes to Grand Valley State on Thursday.
SVSU 22 38 — 60
Tech 23 43 — 66
SVSU — Turnage 14, Gelhaus 11, Garner 12, Hall 10, Daniels 2, Dixon 11. F: 17; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 11-16; Technical fouls: Hall; 3-point field goals: Garner 3, Hall 2.
Tech — Monroe 11, Grazulis 8, Lucca 6, Chartier 16, Heath 18, Hawke 7. F: 15; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 13-17; 3-point field goals: Heath 3, Chartier 2, Monroe, Hawke.