MILWAUKEE, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – It needed overtime to do it, but the Marian University men's basketball team went on to win its Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference road opener with an 84-82 victory over host Wisconsin Lutheran College inside the Recreation Complex, this evening, Dec. 5.
After overcoming a 10-point first-half deficit and scoring on their first four overtime possessions, the Sabres won their third straight game, moved to 3-0 in the conference, and ended the night as the last remaining league unbeaten.
Senior Cody Veleke became the 15th member of the 1,000-point club at Marian with a season-high 24 points in 35 minutes. The Oakfield native added a season-high 11 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season as well. Marian put four scorers in double figures as Sam Koslowski also eclipsed a season-high with 21 points, while Elan Solvik and Drew Binversie tallied 13 points apiece.
The Sabres improved to 4-3 overall, 3-0 in the NACC with the win, while the Warriors dropped to 3-3 (1-2 NACC) with the loss.
Wisconsin Lutheran came out firing on all cylinders after racing out to 16-6 lead less than four minutes into the game. Marian slowly battled back, pulling within two points on three separate occasions, capped by two Koslowski free throws at the end of the first half to bring the halftime score to 37-35.
The Sabres quickly gained their first lead since the opening minute with Veleke was left all alone in the left corner and knocked down a three-pointer to make it 44-41 with 17:23 left.
Marian then matched their largest lead of the game when Montrell Hobbs hit a jumper from the right wing with 14:26 left in the second, forcing WLC to take a timeout.
It proved to be an effective one as the Warriors responded with an 11-2 run capped by a Kyle Stelse jumper to take a 56-55 lead.
For the remainder of regulation, the Sabres and Warriors would trade leads seven more times.
Trailing 64-61 with 3:28 left in the second half, Binversie brought the Sabres back. The sophomore from Valders sank two free throws before knocking down a jumper to score four consecutive points and give the Sabres a 65-64 lead with 1:02 left in regulation.
After a WLC turnover, Veleke was fouled and split a pair of free throws to make it a two-point lead. WLC's Jake Jarnigo then hit a fall away jumper to tie the game at 66-66 with 20 seconds left. Koslowski would get a three-pointer away from the left wing with one second left, but it hit off the iron and the game went to overtime.
The Warriors entered the night as the league-leaders in rebounding margin, besting their opponents by an average of 5.8 rebounds per night through their first five games. The Sabres, who held the league's second best average at 5.0 more than doubled that number with a plus-13 rebounding margin tonight, using 17 offensive rebounds to dominate the Warriors, 43-30, on the glass. Those 17 offensive caroms led to a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points.
In the extra session, the Sabres would net eight second-chance points, six of those coming on three of the first four possessions to give the Sabres a 75-69 lead at the 2:21 mark.
Trying to will his team from behind, Jarnigo – who scored a team-high 22 points – hit fall away jumper after fall away jumper to keep the game close, but Marian free throws sealed the deal down the stretch.
Jarnigo led four Warriors in double figures as Stelse added 15 points followed by 14 and 12 by Brett Lubbe and Taylor Chladek, respectively.
The Sabres shot 44.1 percent (30-for-68) from the field compared to 46.7 percent (28-for-60) for the Warriors. Marian netted 22 points off 13 WLC turnovers and outscored their counterparts 42-26 in the paint.
Alone in first place in the conference, the Sabres will head to Rockford University, which defeated previously unbeaten Aurora University tonight, this Saturday, Dec. 6. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.