FOND DU LAC, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – Northern Athletics Conference play got off to a rousing start as host Marian University and Concordia University Wisconsin played to the final buzzer with the visiting Falcons coming out on top, 59-58, inside Sadoff Gymnasium, this evening, Nov. 27.
Marian big man Cody Veleke gave the Sabres a great chance to force overtime in the waning seconds as he stole an inbounds pass with Marian down three points with four seconds remaining. He immediately turned and fired a shot from long range before getting fouled by CUW's Brian Jackson.
The Oakfield native sunk the first two free throws before CUW called a timeout in an attempt to ice the Veleke on the third and final attempt. It seemed to have worked as the shot missed off the front of the rim and time expired.
"Cody made a great effort there to get the steal and get to the line," Head Coach Mark Boyle said. "But the game wasn't lost there. We missed too many opportunities throughout the game that we sould have been able to take advantage of."
Neither team held a lead of more than six points, while a half-court buzzer-beater by Brian Donaldson just before halftime gave the Falcons a two-point lead – a desperation play that proved to be a difference-maker.
Concordia Wisconsin picked up its first win of the season to move to 1-2 overall, 1-0 in the NAC with the win, while the Sabres fell to 2-3 (0-1 NAC) with the loss.
In a loosely-called, hotly-contested first half, the Sabres scored 13 points off nine Falcon turnovers and took a one point lead on Jake Coenen's layup with three seconds left before halftime. It looked to be a momentum builder for the hosts until Donaldson's heave from the right side of midcourt found the cylinder.
The Sabres came out in the second half – one that was called a lot tighter – and took a three-point lead from the get-go. But the Falcons answered quickly to regain the lead. It would set a trend that carried through the entire second half as both teams combined for five ties and 10 lead changes.
With 9:20 remaining in the game, Sam Koslowski knocked down a rhythm three-pointer to put the Sabres up 48-47. That would be their final lead of the game as Concordia rallied for six straight points in what amounted to a 9-2 run and a 56-50 lead with just 4:35 left in the contest.
After missing three-of-four free throws, which could have potentially tied the game at 56-all, the Sabres got a big time shot from Alex Stecker, who knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points at 58-56 with 54 seconds remaining.
That would set up the final series of events that led to Veleke's heroics and eventual shortfall en route to a narrow Sabre defeat.
Veleke finished with 13 points and four steals on 5-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-3 from the free throw line. Koslowski poured in a game-high 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting on 2-of-5 from three and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Stecker chipped in five points, five assists and three steals.
CUW was led by Mark Pace and Donaldson, who each scored a team-high 13 points. Jackson added two points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
The Sabres will be back in action this Saturday, Dec. 1, to take on Dominican University in the team's first NAC road test. Tip-off is slated for 4:15 p.m. in River Forest, Ill.