Courtesy of MTU Athletics
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Senior Ali Haidar and sophomore Ben Stelzer combined for 57 points for the Michigan Tech men’s basketball team in an 86-75 win over UW-Parkside Saturday (March 16) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
“This could be considered a typical hard fought NCAA Tournament game between two competitive teams. My hat goes off to Parkside who played a whale of a game,” said head coach Kevin Luke.
The Rangers took control of the first half with a 9-0 run that culminated with a layup by Colt Grandstaff at 11:35 of the first half to give UWP a 10 point lead.
The Huskies battled back and took its second lead of the game, 33-31, following a 3-pointer by Haidar at 4:30. Haidar would drain his second 3-pointer of the game seconds before the half expired, but the Huskies would go to the lockerroom trailing by two, 42-40.
“Credit goes to Parkside’s defense,” said Luke. “We had jitters early. We didn’t execute very well offensively or defensively. We were just lucky to make some shots to make it until halftime.”
Tech’s defense stepped up in the second half. Parkside shot 64-percent (16-25) in the first half, but Tech’s defense held them to 41-percent (13-32) from the field in the second half. The Huskies also forced eight of the Rangers 13 turnovers in the second half.
The Huskies took control of the game with a 9-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Stelzer with five minutes remaining. Stelzer finished with six of the team’s nine 3-pointers to finish with 25 points.
Tech’s lead would grow to as many as 14 before finishing at 11, 86-75.
Haidar shot 14-of-22 from the field and grabbed six rebounds.
Junior Austin Armga was the third Husky in double digits finishing with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
Despite 32 points from Haidar, UWP finished with a 36-26 edge in points in the paint.
Zygimantas Riauka led four Rangers in double figures with 18 points.
Tech held Jeremy Saffold, the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year, to only nine points.
“We did a nice job defending Saffold,” said Luke. “Zigi got a little loose on us.”
No. 4 Tech (21-8) will face top seeded host Drury (26-4) in the semifinals of the NCAA Midwest Region Sunday (March 16) at 7:30 pm.