MTU men rally to win vs. Bulldogs

Courtesy of MTU Athletics

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men’s basketball team defeated Ferris State 78-72 on Thursday (Feb. 6) at Jim Wink Arena. The Huskies–who are the best free throw shooting team in the country–made 11 at the line in the final 4:00, shooting 81.8 percent (18-for-22) from the charity stripe in the game.

Tech had four players in double figures and improved to 15-5 overall and 10-5 in the GLIAC. Ferris dropped its 10th straight and is 6-13 overall and 5-10 in conference play.

The Huskies were down by four (61-57) with 5:21 remaining. Ben Stelzer scored eight straight for the visitors, making a 3-pointer, jumper and three free throws, after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. Tech held a 65-63 lead after the 8-2 run.

Josh Fleming answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to swing the lead back to the home team with 3:06 on the clock. On the next possession, Austin Armga gave Tech its final lead of the game with a layup from Alex Culy.

The two teams traded possessions, before Stelzer rebounded a Ferris miss and headed back to the line. He made both freebies to make the margin three (69-66).

Ferris missed a game-tying three on the other end, and Stelzer buried a cold-blooded trey out of a Tech timeout to expand the lead to six with 40 seconds to go.

The teams traded free throws before Luke Heller went to the stripe. He rebounded his own miss and kicked it out to Culy who was fouled. Culy and Armga each made a pair of free throws in the final 15 seconds as Tech earned the six-point victory.

“It was a great win,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said. “We made a run at the right time and made free throws down the stretch. We had to overcome a slow start.”

A combined 15 3-pointers were made in the first half. Ferris led by as many as nine in the opening frame but an 11-2 run got the Huskies back into the game. Tech held a 35-34 lead at the break.

Stelzer finished with a game-high 24 points. He was 7-for-13 from the field with five threes and five free throws. The junior also added six rebounds and three assists.

“Ben brings it every night,” added Luke. “He willed us to a win tonight, and you can’t say enough about him.”

Jordan Chartier was one short of a career high with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Armga (11) and Jason Hawke (10) were also in double figures. Culy (8), Heller (6), Kyle Stankowski (6) and James Wezensky (2) also entered the scoring column.

Tech shot 52.2 percent (24-for-46) from the field and drained 12-for-27 (44.4 percent) from three. The Huskies held a 22-19 rebounding advantage and committed only eight turnovers.

Ferris State shot 53.1 percent (26-for-49) from the floor with Dietrich Lever (17), Drew Lehman (16), Josh Fleming (16) and Jared Stolicker (10) all scoring in double figures.

The Huskies travel to Grand Valley State on Saturday (Feb. 8) to wrap up the road trip. The two teams are tied for second in the GLIAC North. The Lakers defeated Northern Michigan 69-61 on Thursday.