Huskies Men’s B-Ball falls in semifinals

Courtesy of MTU Athletics

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech battled back from a 31-19 deficit at halftime to take a late 50-49 lead before falling 54-51 to Findlay in the GLIAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal today at the SDC Gym.

Ali Haidar missed a free throw that would have tied the game with 20 seconds left. Tech fouled, putting the Oilers at the free throw line, and they missed the front end of a one-and-one. Ben Stelzer found Haidar wide open under the hoop on the ensuing possession, but was called for a charge as he made the pass.

Findlay made two free throws with four seconds left. Haidar had a 3-point attempt from the left wing at the buzzer to tie the game. It drew iron but did not fall.

“I really believe we lost this game in the first half,” said head coach Kevin Luke. “We dug ourselves a big hole. Credit Findlay. They wanted it more than we did.”

The visiting Oilers (21-7) built up a double-digit margin using a 14-3 run in the first half. Stelzer’s 3-pointer was Tech’s lone basket in an eight-minute stretch. Findlay used six offensive rebounds and seven Tech turnovers to head into the locker room up by 12.

The margin grew to as many as 15 early in the second half before the Huskies began chipping away at the deficit.

The Black and Gold got 11 defensive stops on 12 Findlay possessions between 16:00 and 8:00 on the clock to close within six.

Haidar’s three-point play with 5:15 to go sparked the crowd and pulled the hosts within 41-39.

Greg Kahlig buried back-to-back 3-pointers to push the margin back to eight before Stelzer answered with a pair of triples of his own—the last being part of a rare four-point play.

The teams traded layups before Haidar gave Tech its first lead since early in the first half. His layup made it 50-49 Tech with 1:13 to go.

Sean Samsel’s only basket of the game—a deep 3-pointer with 43 seconds proved to be the game-winning points for UF.  That set up the end sequence with Haidar’s chances to tie the score and the Stelzer charge.

“We really battled in the second half,” said Luke. “We needed to play the whole game like that.”

Stelzer led all scorers with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting including 5-of-8 accuracy from behind the arc. Haidar added 17 points and 10 rebounds in likely his last game at the SDC Gym.

Tech shot 43 percent compared to 45 percent for Findlay. The Oilers held a 30-26 rebounding margin.

Michigan Tech, which was ranked No. 3 in the latest NCAA Regional rankings, will have to wait to see if it earns an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. The pairings will be announced on Sunday (Mar. 10) at 10:30 p.m. EDT.