Tech men aim to continue 3-game win streak

Michigan Tech's Kyle Monroe shoots against Northern Michigan Sunday at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — At this point, it’s become clear that the Michigan Tech Huskies will go as far as junior Kyle Monroe takes them. During Tech’s three-game winning streak, Monroe is averaging 35 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. 

But as Tech begins the final month of its regular season by hosting Grand Valley State tonight at 5:30 p.m. and Purdue Northwest on Saturday, it’s fair to wonder if the GLIAC leader in minutes per game (35.4) is bound to hit a proverbial wall of fatigue after carrying the offensive load all season. But for coach Kevin Luke, it’s something he’s not worried about. 

“I’m not concerned with him at all,” Luke said of the nation’s third-highest leading scorer (26 points per game). “I think he’s knowledgeable enough to get himself through it. 

“We’re going to continue to put demands on him, and we’re not changing what we’re doing, but he knows how to figure that out.”

One area of concern for Tech (10-9, 7-5) this weekend will be on the glass. The Huskies are the fourth-worst rebounding team in the country in Division II (298 out of 301), averaging just 29.5 rebounds per game, while GVSU (11-9, 6-6) leads the GLIAC in rebounds (40.5) and ranks 27th in the nation. 

Despite the overall numbers, Tech held its own on the glass in its 78-68 win over GVSU on Dec. 7, finishing with 32 rebounds compared to GVSU’s 34. 

“Their history vs. Michigan Tech has been good as far as pounding us on the boards,” Luke said. “They are a great rebounding team and a good offensive rebounding team. It’s something you always discuss, but that’s the responsibility of the players. We’re not going to box them out every time, and we’re not going to get all the rebounds, but we have to minimize them getting second-chance opportunities.”

Similar to Tech, GVSU suffered a six-game losing streak of its own, lasting from Nov. 24 to Dec. 9. But since then, the Lakers have won eight of 10 for the second-best record in the league during that span. The only losses came to the GLIAC leaders, No. 4 Ferris State (87-81) and Ashland (89-80). 

Tech wraps up the weekend by hosting a struggling Purdue Northwest squad that has won a single game all season, defeating Northwood 55-52 on Jan. 6. But the 1-19 Pride gave Tech trouble in the Huskies’ 75-66 win on Dec. 9. The Pride had a 50-39 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the game and also featured a 63-61 advantage with 2:59 remaining. But Tech would answer with a 14-3 run to close the game. 

“They’re very capable,” Luke said. “They have some good players, good offense and defense. I’m looking forward to this weekend because it will give us a chance to test all of the things that we’re trying to correct from the slump. It’s a great weekend to find out if we’re willing to continue to work to get better and work on our deficiencies.”

HEATH CLOSING IN ON 1,000

Tech junior Bryan Heath currently has 963 points, putting him 37 shy of becoming the 29th member of the men’s 1,000-point club.

“It means a lot to me because it’s a milestone,” Luke said. “It means a kid has done a lot for the program. But I think Bryan would be willing to not worry about the statistics, just focus on getting better.”

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