Monroe’s 32 points fuel Tech in victory over Northwood

Michigan Tech’s Kyle Monroe shoots a jumper against Northwood Saturday, at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — In the opening weekend of GLIAC play, Saginaw Valley State and Northwood each attempted to defend Michigan Tech’s Kyle Monroe by starting with a forward. But when Monroe was able to attack the basket at will or shoot with space, both teams sent a smaller defender on him, which resulted in Monroe dominating in the post with left hook after left hook. 

It might be time for teams to figure out a different game plan. 

After scoring 29 points on 12 of 21 shooting in Tech’s 75-67 win over SVSU on Thursday, Monroe scored 32 points (11 of 19 shooting) and grabbed 12 rebounds in his team’s 87-70 win over the Timberwolves Saturday at the Wood Gym. 

“We’re just trying to do what the defense gives us,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said. “When they put a small guy on (Monroe), I’m not trying to say anything other than he’s going to the post. The next step that we have to work towards is doubles in the post and on the perimeter because that’s going to come.

“We got to step up as coaches and provide solutions to the double-team situation.”

Out of the triple threat, Monroe hit two face-up jumpers on the left wing early in the first half. Later, he swished two 3s from the left wing and screamed in celebration as he ran back down the court with his fists clenched. The second 3 gave Tech a 38-13 lead with 6:02 left in the first half. 

“That opens up the rest of my game really well,” Monroe said of knocking down jumpers. “It forces them to respect everything. After a couple go, they tried to put a smaller or quicker guy on to stop the 3s or mid-range.”

In the second half, Northwood did just that, putting the 6-foot-2 Trey McBride on Monroe. McBride battled on each possession but was not able to slow him down. A left hook off the glass by Monroe gave Tech a 59-40 lead with 14:17 left in the second half. 

The second half turned into a foul-fest, with a combined 29 fouls between the two teams. Monroe took advantage of the quick whistle to go 7 for 7 from the line in the second half. 

Despite Northwood (2-5, 0-2 GLIAC) cutting the deficit to 67-57, Monroe put it away after he took advantage of the freshman, Demitri Martin, in the post and converted a 3-point play for a 76-61 lead with 4:25 left in the game. 

Two days after SVSU played a tight man defense on the perimeter to limit Tech’s 3-point shooting, the Huskies (5-3, 2-0 GLIAC) took advantage of their open looks, converting 9 of 13 attempts from 3 in the first half. Tech led by as much as 40-13 after a pull-up jumper from freshman Isaac Appleby, who finished with 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting.

“Just getting more games into the season, I’m getting more confident with shooting the ball, looking to run the offense and also set up others,” Appleby said. 

More of the same will be asked of Appleby in the near future after sophomore point guard Tommy Lucca had surgery on Friday. There is no timetable for his return.

“He’s resting. He’s sore today, but we’re looking forward to getting him back on campus and evaluating to see if he can go,” Luke said. 

Next, Tech will travel to Grand Valley State (3-5, 0-2 GLIAC) on Thursday before heading to Purdue Northwest (0-7, 0-2 GLIAC) on Saturday.

– – –

Northwood 26 44 — 70

Tech 43 44 — 87

Northwood — Jelinek 4, Allread 10, McBride 17, Georgeton 11, Martin 6, Solomun 3, Schaub 6, Calhoun 13. F: 17; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 19-23; Field goals: 22-54; 3-point field goals: 7-22: Georgeton 3, Martin 2, McBride, Allread. 

Tech — Monroe 32, Grazulis 4, Appleby 20, Uren 6, Heath 13, Borseth 3, Bilski 3, Bell 2, Schuller 4. F: 21; Fouled out: Grazulis; Free throws: 13-16; Field goals: 31-55; 3-point field goals: 12-20: Monroe 3, Appleby 3, Uren 2, Heath 2, Borseth, Bilski.