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College Basketball: Tech men back on winning track, top Purdue Northwest

Michigan Tech’s Carter Johnston (15) puts up a shot over Purdue Northwest on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies men’s basketball team picked up where they left off before they headed south for a four-game road series.

The Huskies moved their winning streak at home to six games with a 82-72 victory over Purdue Northwest at the SDC Wood Gym on Thursday night.

“We love playing here,” said a smiling Husky guard Dawson Bilski. “It is the crowd, the band and the fans that make it happen. Being on the road, it is tough because we do not have all of our fans.”

Bilski was the man of the hour as he led the Huskies (15-7, 9-5 GLIAC) with 26 points, 18 of which beyond the 3-point arc. As well, 20 of his 26 points came in the second half.

While the Huskies went into the halftime locker room up 34-30, head coach Kevin Luke knew his team was better. At one point in the first the Huskies led by seven.

However, the lead changed when Purdue Northwest’s (10-12, 6-8 GLIAC) Tim Gilmore hit a 3-pointer to put the Pride up 28-27 with four minutes to go in the first. While the Huskies would regain the lead, Luke had some choice words for his team in the halftime locker room.

“We were not playing Michigan Tech basketball and executing like we should have been,” Luke said. “And I let them know that.”

Fortunately, the Huskies heeded his call and got into a good rhythm at the start of the second half.

The difference was the 3-pointer. In the first half, the Huskies were 5 of 17 (29 percent) from beyond the arc. That improved to 63.6 in the second as they went 7 of 11 with the three.

“The adjustments that were made in the second half by the team are a sign of a good team,” said Luke. “At this point in the season, we shouldn’t keep making the same mistakes. The guys responded and figured out how to score on Purdue.”

Behind Bilski was Owen White who scored 21 points, while Kyle Monroe scored 17.

Forward Jyrus Freels led the scoring for the Pride with 20.

The game was really won in the last five minutes. At the 4:30 mark, the Pride and the Huskies were tied at 60. However the Huskies responded with 13 unanswered points.

“We started to setting cuts and creating posts and set each other up to succeed,” Bilski said. “We were also able to get some stops and big rebounds.”

With less than a minute left, the Huskies Issac Appleby put the proverbial nail in the coffin with a breakaway steal and a big two-handed dunk that brought the crowd to their feet.

“Our second half was better than the first,” Luke said. “We have to build on tonight for Saturday’s match up here against Parkside.”

Saturday’s game against Parkside will be the second time these two teams have played. Tech lost to Parkside on Jan. 9 69-56. They obviously want to even the series this weekend according to Luke.

“We will be up for the challenge,” he said. “It should be another hard-fought GLIAC game.”

Tip-off is set for 2 p.m on Saturday at the Wood Gym.

Purdue Northwest 30 42 — 72

Michigan Tech 34 48 — 82

PURDUE NORTHWEST (72): Freels 20, Allison 4, Gilmore 9, Doss 4, Boyle 13, Nunn 2, Spring 17, Hallinan 3. 3-point FG: 10 (Spring 5, Hallinan 1, Boyle 3, Freels 4). F: 20 FT: 6-12.

MICHIGAN TECH (82): Monroe 17, Bilski 26, Bell 5, Appleby 8, White 21, Carl 5. 3-point FG: 12 (Bilski 6, White 3, Carl 1, Monroe 1, Bell 1). F: 12. FT: 18-21.

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