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Huskies men take down rival Wildcats

Michigan Tech junior guard Owen White (22) shoots against Northern Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Houghton, Mich. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — There’s fewer things in life better for Kevin Luke than to defeat Northern Michigan University.

The Michigan Tech men’s veteran basketball coach accomplished that Tuesday night with a 73-51 win over Northern at the Student Development Complex Wood Floor.

The Wildcats, who gave the Huskies a stout battle earlier this season, were never really in the GLIAC North Division contest after an impressive first half by Tech.

Luke said the season sweep of the Wildcats was satisfying, but liked the way his team bounced back after a disappointing weekend in Davenport, Iowa.

“I thought we got back to playing Michigan Tech basketball tonight,” he said. “Our defensive play was sharp, our passing was good and our shooting returned to form.”

The Huskies three-point shooting was exceptional against the ‘Cats.

MTU converted 15-of-33 from long distance for the contest, but went a sizzling 11-of-21 in the opening half.

Junior forward Owen White, who led Tech with 22 markers, felt his team came in comfortable.

“I thought we were a lot looser tonight,” said White, who notched four treys for the evening. “We just didn’t play well down in Davenport,” White said. “But the coaches worked hard with us this week and it paid off.”

The Huskies used a smothering defense in the opening 20 minutes to assume a commanding 49-20 lead.

White knocked down a pair of triples to close out the first half. NMU was able to connect on just seven of 25 floor shots in that span.

“I was very pleased with our defensive play,” Luke said. “We getting good position and helping out each other. It was nice to see.”

The Huskies did encounter a cold spell in the second half, being outscored by a 12-7 margin in the first nine minutes.

But two three-pointers by Eric Carl and another one from Brad Simonsen (Houghton) ignited a 14-3 run that sealed the deal.

In addition to White’s big game, the Huskies (9-5) received a nice game from Carl with 13 points.

Trent Bell also came in for praise from his coach after tallying 10 points and grabbing a team-leading eight rebounds.

Carter Johnston added eight points and a game-high 10 assists.

“He did a real good job of getting the ball inside,” Luke said,

The Wildcats, who suffered a blow to their flickering playoff hopes, could place only Justin Kuehl in double figures with ten.

Tech will host tough Grand Valley State on Friday and Saturday.

“We all know how good they are,” Luke said. “But if we play our game, we can be right in there.”

NMU 20 31 — 51

MTU 49 24 — 73

NMU (51): Kuehl 10, Harvey 6, Wolf 2, Bjorklund 2, Olayinka 8, Fruin 3, Schultz 7, Parcher 4, Castor 3, Smith 2. FG: 14-45. FT: 15-18. Rebounds: 26 (Olayinka 7). 3-point FG: Fruin, Parcher, Castor, Kuehl 1.

MTU (73): Bilski 4, Johnston 8, Bell 10. White 22, Carl 13, Hobson 8, Simonsen 2, Calcaterra 2. FG: 27-55. FT: 2-4. Rebounds: 35 (Bell 8). 3-point FG: White 4, Carl 3, Bell 2, Hobson 2, Johnston 2, Bilski 1, Simonsen 1.

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