Huskies men lead wire-to-wire to top Warriors, 78-58

Michigan Tech forward Dawson Nordgaard extends for a rebound during a game against Wayne State Thursday at the SDC Gym in Houghton. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — With just two seniors on roster, and one of them out for the season with an injury, the Michigan Tech Huskies men’s basketball team fields a very young lineup night in and night out. That youth has been both a blessing and a curse for coach Josh Buettner’s squad, which came into Thursday night’s matchup with the Wayne State Warriors with just five wins on the season.

Thursday night went about as well as Buettner and his staff could possibly hope for as the Huskies scored first just 15 seconds in and then never relinquished that lead throughout the rest of the night, earning a 78-58 win at the SDC Gym.

Given how his team has struggled at various points this season with even just four-minute segments between media timeouts, Buettner and his staff have tried to work with the Huskies to get them to understand that every four minutes matters when trying to put together a complete effort for 40 minutes each night.

“We’re really breaking it down with this group right now in the last couple of weeks,” he said. “I mean, we’ve always kind of talked about rounds in between media (timeouts) as four-minute segments. Let’s play them because that’s what’s been a struggle for us, one run over four minutes puts us behind, and then we can’t get back.”

Wanting to build off a win over Lake Superior State on Saturday, the Huskies (6-15 overall, 3-9 GLIAC) were looking for just their second two-game winning streak of the season. Buettner knew it would come down to getting a good start, and the Huskies got just that, winning the opening tip and then getting a layup from freshman guard Dan Gherezgher just 15 seconds later. They added another basket 49 seconds later and even pushed the lead to 6-0 after a short jumper from freshman guard Marcus Tomashek.

“We were really talking about having that enthusiasm, being the aggressors on your home court, and trying to build off of Saturday’s win,” Buettner said. “So that the start was huge for us, coming out and making a couple of shots and getting a couple of stops.”

Gherezgher has had a large learning curve this season as he has had to learn how to be a successful point guard at the collegiate level. Thursday, he got off to a fast start in the first half, scoring 14 of his game-high 20 points, picking up three assists, and two steals before the first 20 minutes ended.

“I feel like I’m starting to gain control of it,” he said. “Chemistry is a lot better for me and my teammates. I feel like they trust me more, I trust them more. The jitters aren’t really there anymore. I had a little bit of jitters coming into games, my first first 10 games in my college career. But now, I really feel like, with the ball in my hands, I’m comfortable with not making mistakes, not losing the ball, not getting turned over.

“So, I just feel that trust in myself and I feel that from the guys on the team as well.”

Buettner and his staff have worked hard with Gherezgher to help him understand when to drive to the basket, and when it would be better to try and find an open teammate.

“I have so many shooters around me that can space the floor,” he said. “That opens up so many gaps for me to attack. I like to think I’m pretty athletic, so getting downhill, attacking gaps, I really have so many options. Maybe, if I don’t have a straight line layup, I got threes in Brad (Simonen), Mark (Tomashek), (and) Hobs (Adam Hobson). Then, if they wanna play up on those guys, I have a straight line for a layup. Tonight, I feel like I did well on that, for the most part.”

Tomashek proved to be a reliable player for Gherezgher to move the ball to throughout the night, as he scored nine points in each half to finish with 18 for the game. The pair are developing alongside each other, and that is something that Gherezgher is enjoying.

“Mark is my roommate, and we click really well,” he said. “Me and Mark play really well together, and maybe, if I’m not hitting shots, and I’m not creating, I can always look to Mark, and he’ll do the same. So I think we’re a really good 1-2 punch.”

The Warriors pushed back hard in the second half, scoring 34 points. A lot of that offense came off of rebounds, as the visitors picked up 10 offensive rebounds in the game, five in each half. However, it was hard for them to make up for turning the ball over 17 times in the contest.

The Huskies made Wayne State pay for each of those mistakes throughout the night, and that proved to be one of the key reasons why the Huskies were able to come out on top Thursday, unlike during their previous meeting on Jan. 7, where the Warriors won in overtime.

While they know that just making the playoffs is still something that they will have to work hard to do, Buettner is excited to see this Huskies team progress.

“We haven’t talked a ton about winning and losing,” he said. “We’ve been talking possessions, four-minute games, halves, get there, and if we keep doing that, good things will happen.”

Up next

The Huskies remain at home Saturday afternoon as they will host Saginaw Valley State looking for their third straight win for the first time this season. Opening tip is set for 3 p.m.


WSU 24 34 – 58

MTU 42 36 – 78

WSU – Coffey 2, Marshall 10, Jackson 2, Lennox 17, Williams 10, Talbot 1, Grant 5, Mutebi 4, Ross 2.

MTU – Calcaterra 11, Tomashek 18, Gherezgher 20, Hobson 10, Robarge 5, Carl 3, Simonsen 2, Abel 3, Nordgaard 5, Geissler 1.


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