GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Indiana Tech men’s basketball team upset No. 10-ranked Cornerstone University, 72-61, on Tuesday evening inside Mol Arena to win its sixth straight game and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Tournament. It’s the Warriors first WHAC Tournament title since 2008 and their third tournament crown.
Mitch Morken scored a career-high 21 points while adding a career-high six steals. Edmond Early, Jr. had 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds while Josh Kline added 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Dylan Phairchipped in 12 points while Max Huber grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles score the first four points of the game but Tech came right back eight straight points, including back-to-back three pointers from Early and Phair. WHAC Player of the Year Sam Vander Sluis, who finished the game with 23 points and 18 rebounds, scored the next five points to spark a 17-0 run for Cornerstone, who also benefited from a six minute and 32 second scoring drought by the Warriors.
Trailing 21-8 with 10:44 to play in the first half, Logan Primerano hit a jumper to snap the scoring drought and start a 14-2 run for Tech while a triple from Morken, one of his five on the night, brought the visitors within a point of the top-seed in the tournament at 23-22 with 6:16 on the clock. It was now the Warriors turn to ratchet up the defense as they held Cornerstone scoreless for five minutes to get back in the game. The hosts held a 31-27 lead with 1:56 left in the half, but the Orange and Black closed out the half on a 7-0 spurt, with Early picking up a steal and finding Kline down the court for a dunk at the buzzer to make it a 34-31 game.
Cornerstone opened up the second half on a 5-0 run to retake the lead just under a minute into the period, but a triple from Phair put the Warriors back up for good with 18:20 to play. The WHAC regular season champions would not go away lightly, as they kept the deficit with six points for the next several minutes and made it a one-point game with 9:06 to go. Tech went back up by five quickly, but Vander Sluis brought the hosts back within a point with 5:19 left in the championship. A 7-0 run from Tech put them ahead 64-58 with 3:57 to play and while Cornerstone trailed by just three with 3:02 to go, the Warriors would not allow the Golden Eagles to score again and closed the game on an 8-0 to take home the tournament title.
Tech (22-11) now turns their attention to the NAIA Division II National Championship, which begins on March 6 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Warriors will find out their seed and opponent on Wednesday in the NAIA Selection Show, which begins at 6 p.m. EST and broadcasted on the NAIA’s Facebook page.