DUNBAR, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – Leading comfortably with five minutes to go, the Marian University men's basketball team seemed poised for its sixth straight victory and 12th win in its last 13 games until host Northland International University strung together an improbable 18-0 run tie the game and send it to overtime. However, the Sabres righted the ship and outscored the Pioneers, 14-5, in the extra frame to secure win in their non-conference finale.
Marian (13-4) was led by Jeff Harris' game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-4 from downtown. Josh Creed added 14 points and five rebounds, while Drew Binversie chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.
"You win some games because certain guys step up and Jeff and Drew really stepped up for us," Head Coach Mark Boyle said. "For the majority of the second half, they kept us in it. Josh did a nice job, as well, playing around the rim for us. He was bothering guys' shots on the defensive end and just put together a scrappy effort."
Harris has registered double-digit efforts in three of the last four games, including back-to-back 20-plus point performances.
"Jeff, the whole game, was really steady and gave us what we needed offensively," Boyle said. "He's feeling it right now. He's in his rhythm…Making plays, making shots, and you can just tell he's playing with a lot of confidence."
The Sabres jumped out to a 28-25 lead at the half and led by 18 points with 5:07 left. NIU responded with an improbable run to tie the game, outscoring the Sabres 18-0 over that stretch to send the game to overtime, 62-62.
"They were pretty explosive," Boyle said of NIU. "They had some talented offensive guys that could do a lot of things on the floor. They had guys that could take it off the dribble and guys that could hit shots."
Josh Conover led four Pioneers in double figures with 14 points. Anthony Lewis chipped in 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while Levi Horner added 13 points, including a 3-for-6 effort from three.
In the overtime session, Marian's steady point guard took over.
"Alex Stecker in the overtime was huge," Boyle said. "He took things over by pentrating to the basket, drawing fouls and just did a nice job of taking care of things at a time when we needed him most."
The Sabres outscored NIU, 14-5, in the extra session to pull out the win.
Marian will have one day to prepare for Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference rival Edgewood College when it plays its sixth game in 12 days Wednesday, Jan. 22. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside the Edgedome in Madison.