Tech men lose OT battle with Davenport
HOUGHTON — It was all going so well. Michigan Tech built a 14-point lead over Davenport with just 10 minutes left in the game, destined to enter the GLIAC tournament with the momentum every coach desires before the postseason.
But Tech could not escape its flair for the dramatic or convert in key moments down the stretch — an issue that has plagued the Huskies in an up and down season. So Tech went into overtime for the fourth time in a row — fifth in its last six games — and dropped another heartbreaker, 101-99, Saturday at the Wood Gym.
Junior Kyle Monroe led the Huskies with 38 points, tying the Tech single-season record with 743 points.
The four consecutive overtime games ties a Division II record. Barton did it in 2007.
“It’s tough to try to wrap around four overtimes in a row. I’ve never been around that,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said. “I thought we played our hearts out, and I thought Davenport did, too.”
Through the back-and-forth overtime session, it was Tech who ended up with the chance to win at the final buzzer. Trailing 101-98 with 2 seconds left, Tech junior Bryan Heath was fouled while shooting a 3. He made the first and missed the second before Davenport called timeout. Out of the break, Heath and Monroe coordinated a plan that had Heath miss the last free throw to the right. He did, and Monroe secured the rebound and kicked to an open Dawson Bilski in the corner. But the freshman’s 3 was just long as the buzzer sounded.
“I just wanted Dawson to get in there in case Kyle didn’t have anything so he could throw it to Dawson,” Luke said.
The execution to set up the shot was there for Tech, just as it was to force overtime.
Trailing 88-85, with 16 seconds left, Luke had Heath come from the baseline and run off a screen to get a look at a 3. Heath caught, gathered and swished a 3 from the right wing to tie the game at 88. Davenport’s Janeau Jobert missed a midrange jumper on the following possession.
But that same late-game execution in Thursday’s overtime win over Wayne State was lacking down the stretch. Trailing 99-98 with 27 seconds left, Monroe missed a left hook off the glass after a spin created space from his defender. It’s a shot he’s made more often than not this season.
After a free throw by Davenport’s Braima Hai gave his team a 100-98 lead, Tech freshman Isaac Appleby and Monroe had a miscommunication and Appleby’s pass sailed out of bounds for a turnover.
It’s fair to wonder if the recent overtime contests and the numerous high-stress situations have begun to take their toll on a team that’s been through an emotional roller coaster the past two weeks. Tech lost in double overtime at Saginaw Valley State on Feb. 8 when Monroe set the GLIAC single-game scoring record with 50 points. Tech later lost in overtime to the two top teams in the league in Ferris State and Lake Superior State. And Thursday, the Huskies (14-13, 11-9) proved they could get over the hump when they beat the third-best team in overtime, Wayne State.
“Every game we’re right there,” Monroe said. “When we’re doing our stuff and executing, we’re as good as any team in this conference.”
For 30 minutes, Tech showed how good it could be, building a 68-54 lead. But eventually, Davenport’s full-court trapping pressure started to throw Tech out of synch, allowing the Panthers to finally take an 84-82 lead on a 3 from Wes Webbert with 1:08 left in the fourth.
Webbert led Davenport (13-15, 7-13) with 22 points and made all four of his 3-point attempts. As a team, Davenport shot 7 of 12 from 3 in the second half and overtime.
“We didn’t have many turnovers against (the pressure), but it obviously got us out of rhythm and slowed us down a bit,” Luke said.
Monroe tied Ali Haidar’s single-season point record with a 3 from the left wing to get him to 38 points and give the Huskies a 93-92 lead. Monroe is set to break the record Wednesday at Wayne State in Tech’s GLIAC quarterfinal matchup.
“To see his points is over 700 is absolutely amazing,” Luke said. “It’s unbelievable that a person can score that many points in a season. Kyle’s done it, and he deserves to break that record.”
Now averaging 27.5 points (second in the nation) and 7.7. rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent overall and 46 percent from 3, Monroe strengthened his case for the GLIAC Player of the Year award and put forth one of his best halves of the season. Monroe opened the game with 25 points and made his first five attempts from 3 as Tech took a 41-33 halftime lead. This, despite his reservations about the game ball that was used.
“Honestly, I was a little worried because they were using an old ball,” he said. “We have five or six new balls here, we gave them a good one for game ball and decided it wasn’t (good).
“To be honest, I was a little nervous coming into the game once I saw that. Obviously, it didn’t make as big an impact as I expected.”
Heath finished with 29 points and Bilski added 12. As a team, Tech shot 50 percent (33 of 66).
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Davenport 33 55 13 — 101
Tech 41 47 11 — 99
Davenport — Bramhill 5, McCloud 16, Hai 8, Joubert 19, Smith 17, Little 2, Webbert 22, Nieuwkoop 6, Burns 6. F: 26; Fouled out: Little; Free throws: 23-26; 3-point field goals: Webbert 4, Burns 2, Joubert 2, Bramhill, McCloud, Hai, Smith.
Tech — Monroe 38, Grazulis 5, Appleby 8, Bilski 12, Heath 29, Gordon 3, Uren 4. F: 19; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 22-31; 3-point field goals: Monroe 6, Bilski 2, Heath 2, Gordon.