Tech men fall in NCAA Tournament Opener

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No. 15-ranked Indianapolis defeated Michigan Tech 74-53 in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional today. The Huskies fell behind by 15 in the opening half and were never able to recover.

Ben Stelzer, fresh off being named Midwest Region Player of the Year, posted 21 points playing in his final career game. The rest of the starting lineup combined for 17.

“Indy played very well today,” said Tech coach Kevin Luke. “I liked the fight in our club today, but it wasn’t good enough. They hit both inside and outside. We tried to take away their inside game, and they buried their outside shots.

“Today’s what’s plagued us all year. If we don’t get balance and scoring from everybody, it’s an issue.”

Tech held an 8-4 lead four minutes into the game, but couldn’t take advantage of a slow offensive start for the Greyhounds. The Huskies turned the ball over seven times in a six-minute stretch that could’ve changed the complexion of the contest.

Instead, UIndy went on a 16-2 run to create a 30-15 advantage with 2:42 to play in the frame.

Stelzer scored seven straight Tech points to pull his team back within 35-22 at halftime.

Greyhound Joe Lawson went to the foul line eight times in the first four minutes of the second half for a 19-point UIndy advantage.

Tech cut the gap to 16 several times down the stretch but could get no closer.

UIndy (24-5) shot 47 percent from the field and converted 25-of-31 free throws. The Black and Gold made 35 percent of their shots and were 12-of-16 at the line.

Stelzer’s 21 points came on 6-of-15 shooting. Jordan Chartier was the only other Husky in double figures with 11 points. Kyle Stankowski posted eight points and five rebounds off the bench. Troy Hecht had a team-high seven rebounds.

Lawson tied Stelzer for game-high honors with 21 for UIndy.

Three Tech seniors, Stelzer, Hecht and Phil Romback, played their final games for the Huskies. Stelzer finished his career seventh on Tech’s all-time scoring list (1,755 points) and as the school record holder for career 3-pointers made (363). Hecht had 173 points and 226 rebounds in 109 career games. Romback notched 468 career points and 284 career rebounds.

“It was an honor to be in this tournament,” said Luke. “I think it says a lot about our program that we’ve been here three straight years.

“I feel for Ben, Troy and Phil. They’ve done so much for our program, and we’re definitely going to miss their presence moving forward.”

Michigan Tech wraps up its 94th season of intercollegiate men’s basketball with a 19-9 overall record.

(Information/Photo Courtesy of MTU Athletics)