Dragons hold off Huskies

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Tiffin’s Austin Adams makes a strong move to the basket as Michigan Tech’s Tommy Lucca (behind left) grabs his arm in an attempt to break up the play.

Each team had standout individuals.

But Tiffin stuck with its game plan and  had all the answers when it needed them, and some clutch free throws at the end, in a 71-64 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win against Michigan Tech.

“They know who they are, they trust one another now. They play through the spurts,” TU coach Jerry Buccilla said after his team won its third in a row and fifth in its last six outings.

“Michigan Tech has got a solid team, shoots the ball well and they’re going to have spurts, and we played through those spurts and then we got ours. And our goal was to make our spurt better than them, that’s what we talked about — once they have a spurt and we break it, our spurt’s got to better than them, and I felt we did that,” he said.

Pressure defense, focused rebounding and overall better play helped.

Tiffin outscored the Huskies 14-5 on second-chance points by dominating the boards 43-31, held a 36-14 inside scoring advantage and saw its bench outscore Michigan Tech 15-1.

Michigan Tech didn’t exactly wilt under the defense, committing just 13 turnovers, but the pestering pressure often got the Huskies out of rhythm and led to outside shots.

“We know that every team we play is more athletic than us, so we know where we have to be, and if we’re not there we’re either going to turn it over or chances are it’s not going to be good for us,” Michigan Tech coach Kevin Luke said.

Still, outside shooting wasn’t a problem in the first half, with Michigan Tech going 7 for 14 on 3-pointers to enter the break down just 32-30.

An 11-6 surge in the final three minutes of the first half, capped by Tommy Lucca’s buzzer-beating 3, helped the Huskies get within that two-point deficit before another Lucca 3 started a 10-4 run to put Michigan Tech up 40-36 at the 15:49 point of the second half.

But it didn’t last.Layups by TU’s Austin Adams and Brandon Wilkins knotted the score at 40, and the Dragons (4-4 GLIAC) regained the lead for good on Wilkins’ putback with 12:03 left.

That latter bucket was part of a 16-4 surge that saw the Dragons forge a 56-46 advantage with 6:34 to go.

And the Dragons spread the wealth to do it. Austin Adams had four points, Tony Kynard and Terrell Mabins each hit a 3, and Khaleal McCormick and Juwan Johnson joined Wilkins with a field goal.

Tiffin held a 64-53 advantage with 3:09 to go before the Huskies (6-8, 4-3) rallied again.

Kyle Monroe had a 3 and layup, Lucca split a pair of foul shots and Jordan Chartier hit a 3 to get the Huskies within 66-62 with 38 seconds left.

But Tiffin, just 1 for 7 at the line up until then, went 5 for 6 from there on foul shots to preserve the win.

“Tiffin played the game that they had to play to beat Michigan Tech. They guarded hard, they executed well, they went inside on us,” Luke said.

The Huskies got 29 points from Lucca, 14 points and nine boards from Monroe, and 10 points from Bryan Heath.Adams led TU with 25 points and 15 rebounds for TU, McCormick added 14 points and three assists, and Johnson tallied 11 points and eight boards.

“We had the best work over break, practice work, that I’ve seen any team have that I’ve been a part of. And they’re getting paid for that work,” Buccilla said. “They’ve been practicing like they’ve been playing. That’s what you see if you come see us practice, and it’s got to be that way if want to continue to have success.”