SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Ben Stelzer rose to the occasion Sunday night just as he has so many times this season.
Big shot after big shot went through the net for the junior Michigan Tech guard, and in an intense NCAA Division II Midwest Regional semifinal showdown against Indianapolis, the clutch play of Stelzer helped propel the Huskies to an 82-76 victory over the No. 12 Greyhounds at the O'Reilly Center.
Stelzer didn't score in the first half, but he was in a zone in the final 20 minutes, torching the Greyhounds for 32 points as he helped lead the Huskies into the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
MTU will battle defending national champion Drury at 7 p.m. CST Tuesday for the right to advance to the Elite Eight at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
"It was a frustrating first half," Stelzer said. "My shot felt good the whole time. We stuck to our system and got some mismatches, and I was able to hit some shots."
Stelzer started to heat up when he nailed a trey with seven minutes remaining that put the Huskies up 54-52. It was the start of a stretch where he scored 21 straight points, including back-to-back treys that extended the MTU lead to 66-56.
The Huskies (24-7) were never threatened again, and for head coach Kevin Luke, who is in his 20th season at MTU, the victory was special.
"To be in the championship game is a sweet thing," Luke said. "We've never been here before. I'm excited for these guys and proud of these guys. There will be nerves Tuesday night, but they will be good nerves."
Stelzer certainly wasn't nervous as he helped fuel a huge second half for the Huskies, who have won their last two games. He hit four treys and went 12-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Luke praised Stelzer for his effort against the Greyhounds (24-5).
"Once he was feeling it, the shots started going in," Luke said. "They did a nice job guarding Austin (Armga), but Ben stepped up for us when we needed him."
Armga, who scored 19 points, and Ben Stelzer are the biggest offensive threats for the Huskies, but MTU got help from an unlikely hero as Kyle Stankowski made several crucial shots in a key role off the bench.
Stankowski had a stretch in the first half where he scored five consecutive points on layups that pushed the Huskies' lead to 15-9.
One of his biggest shots of the game was off a putback that put MTU in front 51-49. Indy took a 52-51 lead moments later before Stelzer took over. He finished with 15 points and the Huskies shot 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the field as a team.
"We've had players step up all year, and tonight Kyle came in and stepped up," Luke said. "He wasn't just a player. He was a competitor. He was really good for us."
Armga was a one-man show early on, scoring the first seven points for the Huskies, who led 7-2 after Armga knocked down a 3-pointer.
Indy closed the gap to 10-7 but Stankowski stepped up over the next couple of minutes as he capitalized on opportunities in the paint to give MTU a little breathing room.
The Huskies continued to dominate as the half wore on. Alex Culy hit two free throws and drilled a trey before Armga pulled up for a short jumper that banked off the glass and went in as the Huskies pushed their lead to 22-12 and forced the Greyhounds to burn a timeout.
The Greyhounds fought back by attacking the basket, and a layup down the middle of the lane by Tyrae Robinson cut the Huskies' lead to 24-20 with 5:50 remaining in the first half.
But the Huskies responded one more time. Stankowski scored twice off layups and Armga capped a fastbreak by driving inside for a close-range shot. He was fouled and hit the free throw for a 31-22 lead.
Indy wasn't fazed and was only down 31-27 when Reece Cheatham nailed a trey with less than two minutes remaining in the half. MTU went into halftime with a 33-29 lead.
Stelzer scored his first points of the game early in the second half as he drilled a trey for a 36-31 lead.
The Greyhounds hung around and took a 43-42 on a wide-open dunk by Brennan McElroy.
It was back-and-forth from there as the Huskies and Greyhounds took turns trading the lead.
Stelzer heated up and took over late in the game, nailing a trey, hitting a jumper and scoring on two layups as MTU surged in front 60-56 with just over five minutes left.
Indy was within four one last time, closing the gap to 66-62, before the Huskies pulled away for good on clutch shooting from the line.
Indy shot 42.4 percent (25-of-59) from the field and got 33 points from Cheatham. Tyrae Robinson added 12 points.
The Huskies now shift their attention to the regional final.
"It's a dream come true right now," Armga said. "It's great to have this chance. We've worked really hard for it."
Luke isn't sure what to expect on Tuesday, but he knows his team will give its best effort.
"I can't promise anything, but I know we will play hard," Luke said. "If we are fortunate to be on top, than we will celebrate another win. If not, I'll be very proud of what this team accomplished this season."