Michigan Tech men dominated by Wayne State 68-47

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech’s Tommy Lucca attempts to shoot over Wayne State’s Chuck Key Thursday at the Wood Gym.

HOUGHTON — This was a butt-kicking.

Unlike every other men’s game that was a competitive affair at the Wood Gym this season, the Michigan Tech Huskies decided Thursday’s matchup with the Wayne State Warriors would be decided in the opening minutes when they came out lifeless and slow and delivered a no-show performance in a 68-47 defeat in front of 735 fans.

The Huskies spotted Wayne State the game’s first 10 points, and Tech never appeared to have the sense of urgency of a team in a conference championship chase.

“I can’t explain it, because with what was at stake, it’s unexplainable,” Tech head coach Kevin Luke said. “We didn’t have energy and I don’t know what the answer is. We just came out flat. How can you come out flat in a game of this magnitude? It was everybody.”

Tech (13-11, 11-6) could have gained ground on the Ferris State Bulldogs in the GLIAC North. The first-place Bulldogs (20-4, 14-3) saw their 15-game winning streak end in a 83-79 loss to the Lake Superior State Lakers Thursday, making for a missed opportunity for the Huskies.

Tech’s homecourt advantage for a first-round GLIAC Tournament game also took a setback with the loss; the Huskies are currently sitting in a tie for third, a game up on three teams tied at 10-7.

The 47 points is Tech’s lowest since they beat Wayne State 63-58 on Jan. 12. But Tech’s issues started on the defensive end.

Coming in, the plan was to send a double on Wayne State junior Chuck Key, who averaged 14.4 points per game. But Key made his first four shot attempts and scored the game’s first eight points as no double-team came over to stop him.

“There’s no excuse for that,” Luke said. “It’s catching up to us of us not defending properly as a team, and tonight was very evident of that.

“And honestly, it’s catching up with our offense. If we have a bad night shooting when we don’t screen and want to get guys the ball inside, we’re in trouble.”

Tech shot 16 of 51 (31 percent) and was 4 of 21 from 3 (19 percent). Only sophomore Kyle Monroe reached double figures; he scored 25 points on 9 of 18 shooting.

“We didn’t shoot well and credit needs to go to Wayne State,” Luke said.  “I thought Wayne State played excellent. They out-toughed us, out-executed us. Tonight, they wanted it more than us, and they got it.”

Tech’s first basket didn’t come until 5 minutes, 59 seconds into the game when freshman Tommy Lucca made a layup to trim Wayne State’s lead to 14-4.

The Huskies never led and were only able to get the deficit down to nine points — and that was in the first half.

Wayne State continued to exploit Tech’s defense over and over, and the Warriors ended up shooting 24 of 46 (52 percent). Things got so dire, Luke had his team go to a 2-3 zone in the first half.

“We couldn’t stop them. We were giving up 3s and layups and wide open jump shots,” Luke said of his reasons for going zone. “We weren’t stopping anybody and we were seeing if we could get ourselves back in it.

“I wasn’t going to go zone in the second half to use it as a reason for our guys not to play hard. We have to learn to play hard.”

The second half started much the same, and any hope that the Black and Gold would mount a rally quickly dissipated when Wayne State (13-8, 10-7) started the half on a 7-0 run for a 40-23 lead.

After a 3 by junior Ronald Booth made it 55-34 with 10:39 remaining, some of the 735 fans decided to head home.

“I hope we can give more of an effort on Saturday because it’s for the seniors,” Luke said.

Tech hosts the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals Saturday at 2 p.m.

Wayne State   33 35 — 68

Michigan Tech 23 24 — 47

Wayne State — Lewis 2, Key 18, Booth 18, Moore 10, Bishop 6, Spencer 11, Reynolds 1, Ndondo 2. F: 16; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 13-15; 3-point field goals: Booth 4, Moore 2, Spencer.

Michigan Tech — Monroe 25, Grazulis 6, Lucca 6, Heath 6, Clarey 2, Hawke 2. F: 16; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 11-14; 3-point field goals: Heath 2, Monroe 2.