FOND DU LAC, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – Stifling defense was the key to victory for the Marian University men's basketball team as it defeated visiting MSOE, 59-47, in a Northern Athletics Conference showdown inside Sadoff Gymnasium, this evening, Jan. 23.
"MSOE is a good defensive team and we were able to take advantage of some open shots throughout the game," Head Coach Mark Boyle said. "Our defense was tough. We didn't allow them to do what they wanted offensively."
The Sabres won for the third straight time and the eighth time in their last 10 outings by holding MSOE to just 33.3 percent (14-for-42) from the floor, including 2-for-14 from the three-point arc. Meanwhile, the Sabres converted a season-high 10 three-pointers, eight of those coming in the first half.
Junior Cody Veleke (Oakfield, Wis.) led three in double figures with 12 points and six rebounds. Freshman Drew Binversie (Valders, Wis.) finished with 11 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Alex Gomez (Belvidere, Ill.) added 10 points off the bench.
Marian improved to 11-8 overall and swept the regular season series from the Raiders, while matching last season's NAC win total by moving to 7-4 in the conference. Meanwhile, MSOE saw its four-game winning streak snapped as it fell to 13-6 (7-3 NAC).
Much like their last meeting back on Dec. 5, it was a back-and-forth battle, at least at the start. Trailing 17-15 with 7:29 remaining in the first half, Veleke knocked down a three-pointer from the wing to give the Sabres an 18-15 lead, one they would not relinquish.
Marian closed the first half on a 19-6 run to lead 34-23 at the break. Gomez hit two three-pointers in 11 minutes off the bench, while freshman Brad Koth (Butte des Morts, Wis.) hit a triple at the buzzer, his only three points of the game.
"Alex and Brad gave us a huge boost right before halftime," Boyle said. "Our bench really stepped up tonight. Alex gave us a huge spark offensively, but was really solid on the defensive end as well."
In the second half, the Sabres kept the pressure on by forcing eight turnovers and holding the Raiders to just 28.6 percent (6-for-21) from the field.
MSOE's Connor Patterson scored two of his team-high 14 points to cut the deficit to seven points, 39-32, at the 14:36 mark, but that was as close as the Raiders would get the rest of the way.
A Gomez layup with just under five minutes remaining in regulation gave the Sabres their largest lead of the game of 15 points, 55-40.
The Sabres are now just two games back of first place Lakeland (16-4, 9-2 NAC) after the Muskies fell to Concordia Wisconsin (11-7, 8-3 NAC), which sits one game ahead of the Sabres in second place in the North Division.
Marian will close out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a home game against Northland International this Saturday, Jan. 26. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.