DULUTH, Minn. — Michigan Tech overcame a five-point halftime deficit, then held on at the buzzer to defeat Minnesota Duluth 60-58 today in its men’s basketball season opener played at Romano Gymnasium. The Huskies’ Jason Hawke split a pair of free throws with nine seconds left, and the Bulldogs’ Jason Pineda missed a 3-pointer with one tick showing in the game’s final sequence.
“We were able to grind out the win,” said Tech coach Kevin Luke. “Beating UMD in Duluth is hard, and I’m proud of the guys for getting it done.”
Ben Stelzer scored a game-high 28 points with 18 in the opening half on 6-of-8 3-point shooting. Tech made its first two triples of the second half to gain a 37-36 advantage.
Later in the half, the Huskies turned a 48-all score into a 56-50 lead with a pair of Luke Heller buckets, a Kyle Stankowski layup and a Stelzer layup. Stankowski also had a pair of blocks in the sequence.
UMD (3-1) worked itself back within 57-55 on a three-point play with 34 seconds left. Hawke made both shots of a one-and-one to make it a two-possession game at :32.
Pineda buried a 3-pointer just four seconds later to cut the margin to one. Stelzer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 23 ticks left, but Pierre Newton lost the ball out of bounds on a drive to give the ball back to Tech.
Hawke then missed the first and made the second at the foul line in the double bonus, setting up the Bulldogs for a chance at a game winner. Pineda’s triple try was short, and the Huskies cleared the rebound at the buzzer.
Tech shot 44 percent from the field and did a nice job defensively on UMD post player Brett Ervin, holding him 11 points below his season average.
“Missed layups and free throws really got us into trouble,” said Luke. “I thought Troy Hecht and our doubling crew did an exceptional job holding Ervin.
“Stelzer put us on his shoulders and really kept us in the game in that first half with his shooting.”
Michigan Tech (1-0) will travel to the opposite corner of Minnesota next weekend for the Southwest Minnesota State Classic. The Huskies face the host, SMSU, Friday (Nov. 28) at 9 p.m. (ET) and Wayne State College (Neb.) on Saturday (Nov. 29) at 7 p.m. (ET).
(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)