Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The New Jersey Institute of Technology is the only independent program in Division I men's basketball. The power conferences aren't going to want to schedule the Highlanders any time soon.
Just ask Michigan.
Damon Lynn scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, as NJIT pulled off a stunning 72-70 win over the 17th-ranked Wolverines on Saturday at Crisler Center.
Ky Howard and Winfield Willis each chipped in 17 points for the Highlanders (3-5), who played a top-25 team for the first time since joining the Division I ranks in 2006-07.
"We played really well." said NJIT coach Jim Engles, who has been at the helm since the program made the move to Division I. "We were a little nervous on offense early, but we competed on defense and eventually our offense came around. I'm really proud of the way my guys competed and the way they played."
Caris LeVert tried to keep Michigan in the game with a career-high 32 points, connecting on 6-of-8 from 3-point range, but the Wolverines (6-2) came up short and had a two-game win streak stopped.
Michigan was coming off a victory over Syracuse on Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and scored the first eight points of this game, but NJIT quickly regrouped after the early deficit. The Highlanders never allowed the Wolverines to pull away and a big NJIT run in the second half led to the incredible upset.
"New Jersey deserved to win the game today," said Michigan coach John Beilein. "They were the better team today. And we're going to grow from it, over the time that I've been here -- actually in all the years of coaching -- there's moments in the season that make you a lot better. My hope is that this will be one of them."
NJIT trailed by five at halftime and came out of the break with a 7-2 run, tying it at 34-34 on a 3-pointer by Willis. Michigan went in front by six soon after, but the Highlanders used a 13-0 burst to take a surprising lead.
A three by Lynn tied it at 44-44 and Michigan twice turned it over before Howard's layup put NJIT on top. After two more empty trips from the Wolverines, Lynn drained another shot from above the top of the key and Willis converted a layup to give the Highlanders a 51-44 lead with 9:08 remaining.
Derrick Walton Jr. ended Michigan's scoreless drought of more than seven minutes with a pair of free throws. It also started an 11-2 run that LeVert capped with a triple to give the Wolverines a 55-53 edge with just over six minutes left.
Lynn, though, answered with a three from the left wing and the lead see-sawed back and forth over the next few minutes until NJIT scored on consecutive possessions for a 65-62 edge. A 3-pointer by Lynn a few moments later pushed the lead to 68-64 with 2 1/2 minutes to play.
LeVert drilled a three to pull Michigan within 70-69 with 1:41 remaining and Zak Irvin came up with a block at the defensive end to give the Wolverines a chance to take the lead, but LeVert's cross-court pass resulted in a turnover with 44 seconds remaining.
NJIT whittled the shot clock down before Michigan nearly came up with a steal. The Highlanders retained possession and Howard's rushed 3-pointer drew iron, but the rebound was batted around before Daquan Holiday came away with it for NJIT with 4.3 seconds to play.
Holiday was fouled and calmly sank both ends of the 1-and-1 for a three-point edge. The Highlanders chose to foul in the backcourt and Kameron Chatman made the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Chatman missed the second free throw on purpose and Holiday pulled down the rebound. He missed the first free throw and Michigan's Aubrey Dawkins quickly grabbed the rebound, but his desperation heave came up well short as time expired.
Walton was the only other Wolverine to reach double figures with 16 points, while leading scorer Irvin was just 2-of-11 from the field and had only five. Spike Albrecht, who hit the go-ahead shot late against Syracuse, finished with seven points and fouled out late in the contest.
"Our coaching staff told us that this team was a great ball club, and they were," said Irvin. "They came out and were the better team today."
Lynn finished 6-of-10 from 3-point range for NJIT to lead an 11-for-17 effort from beyond the arc for the Highlanders, who shot 58.7 percent overall.
"They really made tough shots; they shot 58 percent," Beilein added. "Now, we gave them some layups as well, and we didn't get to some people in that first half. They gave us a great advantage by turning the ball over early a lot; we didn't take advantage of it, and then they stopped turning it over."
Michigan scored the first eight points and opened a 13-5 advantage, but NJIT followed with a 10-3 run. Tim Coleman and Howard connected from beyond the arc during the surge, which Lynn capped with a driving layup to pull the Highlanders within 16-15 with just under eight minutes left in the first half.
Threes by Mark Donnal and LeVert on consecutive possessions a few minutes later extended the Michigan lead to seven, but the Highlanders stayed within striking distance and cut the deficit to three before a bucket by Irvin sent the Wolverines to the break with a 32-27 margin.
NJIT had been a member of the now-defunct Great West Conference ... The Highlanders have another ranked matchup ahead with a visit to Villanova on Dec. 23. Villanova handed Michigan its only other loss on Nov. 25 ...The Wolverines made 11-of-24 3-point tries and shot 42.6 percent overall.