HOUGHTON — Thanks to a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Dan Gherezgher just 13 seconds into the contest, and a career high 33 points from sophomore guard Marcus Tomashek, the Michigan Tech Huskies led wire-to-wire to earn their first victory of the season, 83-75, over the visiting Missouri-St. Louis Tritons Saturday at the SDC Gym.
Considering the fact that Huskies coach Josh Buettner was not sure earlier in the week if Gherezgher was going to be available for the game, to have him go out and set the tone with an early three, followed by setting one up by sophomore forward Adam Hobson 32 seconds later from almost the exact same spot on the floor, was exactly what the Huskies needed.
In total, they hit nine before they made a basket of any other sort in the game’s first 11 minutes of action.
“I really liked the way we came out, and I know we shot a lot of threes early, but a lot of them were inside out touches,” said Buettner. “I thought we came out and executed. Then, honestly, I was really happy with what we did. After we made the first six or seven threes, I thought we really executed our offense terrifically.”
While Tomashek was busy putting up his big totals, three other Huskies finished in double figures as senior center Tyler Robarge had 13, and Hobson and Gherezgher both finished with 11.
“We weren’t necessarily scoring a ton of points inside, but were looking in there, and the ball was touching the paint,” Buettner said. “When those inside out passes come, we’re going to hit those at a high clip consistently. We have really good shooters.”
Tomashek had just 11 points in the first half, but that was good enough to help the Huskies finish the first 20 minutes of play with a 42-24 advantage going into the break.
In the second half, the Tritons chipped away at the Huskies’ lead, shaving it down to seven, 49-42, until Tomashek hit a three with 12:26 remaining. He followed that up with another just over a minute later, and a third 30 seconds after that, and suddenly, he had 20 points in the game and the Huskies were back on top by 14, 58-44.
“Obviously, we lost the momentum for a little bit,” said Tomashek. “We had some dumb turnovers. I had a few really bad ones. Then, once we came together, and then made a few shots, it was really good to get the momentum back. I think we controlled it for the rest of the game.”
Tomashek went to the charity stripe six times in the game’s final 1:56, and he made 11-of-12 free throws to push his total to 33, something he was not even aware was happening in the moment.
“I didn’t even know that I scored that much,” he said. “It came to me in the game, so it’s a good feeling after, but the most important thing is the win.”
With a starting five that is full of sophomores and one redshirt freshman, learning how to win games is something that Buettner feels his team still needs to work on.
“Last year, our team would have crumbled, especially early in the season,” he said. “It helps when you have a guy that is going to take that shot like Marcus. I mean, that’s what you do. You look for where are you going to get that big basket to kill their momentum? Obviously, Marcus stepped up and nailed some big ones.
“We need to keep finding ways. I mean, we’re going to have those threes we need. Guys are going to get it to the rim, guys are going to get it downhill for those situations. We started taking care of the ball a little better about the same time we got those couple of shots.”
While the offense clicked at a high pace, the defense also improved. Buettner loved what he saw out of sophomore forward Dawson Nordgaard, who only had two points offensively, but was pivotal defensively in finding ways to keep the Tritons from attacking the rim with any consistency. Also, by going hard to the paint on the offensive side, he created time and space for the other shooters on the Huskies’ roster.
“Dawson’s another guy that has gotten a lot stronger over the last year,” Buettner said. “He did get in a little bit of foul trouble today, but last year, he would have had foul, foul, foul. The numbers might not show. I don’t know if he had two or four points, but he was drawing attention in there.
“A lot of those threes were credit to him and Rob (Robarge). (Our ball handlers) looking at them just drew in the weak side help, and allowed those skips for us to get good catch and looks. It’s something that we’re preaching all the time offensively.”
The Huskies do not have a lot of time to enjoy the win. They are back in action Tuesday night on the road at St. Cloud State. The two sets of Huskies do battle at 7 p.m.