Armga leads the Huskies past NMU

Courtesy of MTU Athletics

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech men’s basketball team won its 20th game of the season on Thursday (Feb. 27) with a 69-56 victory over Northern Michigan at the Berry Events Center. The Huskies are now 20-6 overall and 16-6 after their final game of the regular season.

Down by two (45-43) with 12:38 on the clock, the Huskies scored seven straight to take the lead for good with less than 11:00 to go. The total run was 18-4 and the lead got up to 12 with 6:28 remaining. Ben Stelzer scored eight points in the run while Austin Armga added six.

Tech subbed out the starters and Jason Hawke and Jeff Gregory got the lead back to the largest of the game at 15.

“It’s a monumental win to get us 20 on season,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said after recording 20 wins for the sixth time in his 20 seasons. “I’m really proud of this group. The credit goes to them because they’ve done all the work and believed all season long.

“To get a win at Northern on the road, when you know it’s going to be tight and they weren’t going to go away, was big. I’m just happy we made some shots late in the game.”

Tech slowly built its first half lead to 11 with 6:58 to go before halftime. The largest lead of the opening frame was 15 after six straight points from Armga, Luke Heller and Kyle Stankowski. The Huskies led 38-29 at the break after shooting 53.8 percent from the field.

“Our defensive effort was pretty good all night,” added Luke. “Give Northern some credit though because they didn’t go away.”

Tech finished the game shooting 45.8 percent (22-for-48) from the field and 7-for-21 (33.3 percent) from three. The Huskies also made 18-for-22 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line and held a 36-27 rebounding advantage.

Armga finished with a game-high 23 points to move into a tie for 10th place on Tech’s all-time scoring list with 1,449 career points. He also added seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes of play.

“We can’t say much more about what Austin has done for our program,” Luke said. “I hope he has another month left of gas.”

Alex Culy and Stelzer each scored a dozen. Stelzer is now two points shy of 1,000 for his career and added a game and career-high nine rebounds.

NMU made 42.1 percent (24-for-57) from the field but only 3-of-15 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. Terry Nash led the Wildcats with 13 points. Justin Newell and Chavis Mattison added 12 each.

Tech will open postseason play on March 5 at home. It will be the third season in a row the Huskies will begin the playoffs at home. Seeding from the tournament isn’t set. Tech is in a battle with Walsh for the third or fourth seed.