Second-half surge propels Tech

MIDLAND – With his Michigan Tech men’s basketball team struggling to put the ball in the hoop and trailing 30-22 at halftime against Northwood Thursday, head coach Kevin Luke posed a simple question to his team in the locker room at halftime.

“The only thing I said was, ‘Do you want to win? If you do, throw the ball to Haidar on the block.'” Luke said in a phone interview. “It’s that simple.”

Apparently it is.

Haidar scored 10 points on the first six possessions of the second half en route to finishing with 34 points on an extremely efficient 15-of-19 shooting. The team as a whole poured in 57 second-half points (a season best) to comfortably close out the Timberwolves 79-65.

“That second half was as good as we have played all year,” Luke said. “We just kept the ball zipping around the perimeter until we could get it inside then with Haidar on the block, he pretty much scored at will.”

With Haidar humming along, the senior forward just needed a little help to finish off Northwood.

He got it from a surprising source.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Chartier started the second half (in place of Troy Hecht) after 11 productive minutes in the first half and little-used senior guard Matt Esters came off the bench in the second period to score 14 points, including two consecutive threes when the Huskies were trailing by six.

Chartier (10 points) helped seal the game with an offensive rebound and three-pointer to give Tech a six-point lead with under six minutes to go, halting a Northwood run. Esters then put Tech up nine with four minutes to play after an offensive rebound putback.

Esters was averaging five minutes per game entering Thursday.

“He did a good job of helping us win versus Northwood last year (nine free throws made) and it just kept coming into my mind so I gave him a chance. He was awesome,” Luke said.

“His attitude has been good the whole time this season, he deserves a lot of credit for that where some other guys might have checked out, he hasn’t at all.”

Tech finished with 19 assists – Alex Culy had eight – against just nine turnovers and 29 made field goals.

“I actually thought tonight was Haidar’s best effort in getting his teammates involved,” Luke said. “He picked and chose his spots, and when he didn’t he was kicking it out for an open three.”