HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech held off a hot-shooting Lake Erie team 82-78 in GLIAC men’s basketball tonight at the SDC Gym. The visiting Storm made 14 3-pointers in the contest, but the Huskies made 12 of their own and connected on just enough free throws down the stretch to earn the victory.
Ben Stelzer scored 24 points for the Black and Gold with 6-of-12 accuracy from long range and six makes on as many free throw attempts. Kyle Stankowski added 17 points, and two other Tech players reached double figures as well.
LEC (5-6, 2-5 GLIAC) went shot-for-shot with Tech (8-3, 5-2 GLIAC) in the early going and had a 33-28 lead with 2:40 to play in the first half.
Dillon Gordon made a 3-pointer, and Stankowski tacked on a layup to knot it at 33-all. The visitors entered halftime with a 35-33 lead, however.
Tech seemed to get some separation midway through the second half as Gordon hit his third triple of the game and assisted on a Stankowski layup for a 62-52 score with 8:26 showing.
The cushion was short-lived. The Storm had their deficit trimmed to two (66-64) just two minutes later. Lake Erie had a chance to take the lead on a 3-pointer with four minutes left but misfired.
Stelzer then hit a critical 3-pointer from the left corner on a great passing play at the 2:55 mark. That gave the hosts a five-point margin, and they needed all of it. LEC had the score down to a one-possession differential three times in the final 30 seconds, but Tech hit seven of its eight free throws to secure the victory.
“I’m not sure we were the better team today, but happy to get the win,” said Tech coach Kevin Luke. “Hats off to Lake Erie. They made shots and executed their offense very well.
“The stats are almost identical between the teams. The difference made be that our leading scorer had 24 and theirs had 15.”
Stelzer’s 24-point performance was right on his average and came one game after a season-low nine points at Tiffin last Sunday (Jan. 4).
Lake Erie was led by Jamil Dudley’s 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Storm used a full-court press for most of the game, but Tech committed just six turnovers compared to 10 for LEC.
Gordon finished with a career-high 11 points off the Tech bench. Stankowski’s 17 matched his career best.
Michigan Tech, winners of three straight since 2015 began, will continue its four-game homestand with Ashland on Saturday (Jan. 10). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
(Information/Photo Courtesy of MTU Athletics)