LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Concordia University Wisconsin's men's basketball team trailed by two before going on a 14-6 run over the final 3:28 of the game to seal a 63-57 season-opening non-conference road victory over UW-La Crosse inside Mitchell Hall Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
The Falcons drained 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch and 17-of-23 to secure the win. After senior Luke Doedens (Cedarburg, Wis.) nailed a 3-pointer to push CUW in front for good, seniors Nick Doedens (Germantown, Wis.) and Mitchell Schneider (New Holstein, Wis.) each made four free throws in the final minutes.
"This is a great win for us to begin the season," head coach Shawn Cassidy said. "We fought hard on every possession and I am proud of our effort throughout the game, especially down the stretch. Our seniors took control during the final five minutes of tonight's win and we communicated when we needed to."
CUW (1-0) finished with a 44-33 rebounding advantage, and held UW-L -- a team picked to finish fourth in the WIAC preseason poll -- to 33.3 percent (21-of-63) in the game. The Falcons did, however, commit 20 turnovers in the game.
"It is nice to know that we can win a game with a grind-it-out kind of effort," Cassidy said. "I was pleased to see that there was no drop off in intensity when playing 12 guys throughout the game."
Schneider and Luke Doedens paced the Falcons with 13 points apiece, while senior Nick Doedens chipped in 11 points of his own. Freshman Ben Brooke (Viroqua, Wis.), playing 20 minutes away from his hometown and in front of a large number of family and friends, finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of play.
"I thought Ben played really well," Cassidy said. "He sealed off the paint nicely and to score eight points and grab eight rebounds is a nice effort in his first career collegiate game."
The Eagles' Cory Degner led all players with 15 points. Al Chery scored 12 points and Jeff Heiden finished with 11 points for UW-L (0-1). The Eagles went to the outside shot often, but made only 6-of-31 long balls.
CUW jumped out to an early 11-4 lead behind three triples from Luke Doedens less than five minutes into the ball game.
UW-L slowly chipped away at the deficit and got to within three, 13-10, with 11:54 remaining in the opening half. The Eagles took their first lead of the game behind a Degner layup to go ahead 16-15.
Both teams went back and forth over the final six-plus minutes before the Falcons took a 28-26 lead into the intermission. Luke Doedens led all players at the break with eight points.
The Eagles' Chery slammed home a dunk to begin the second half. UW-L stopped CUW on the defensive end and took a single-digit lead for the majority of the way until the Falcons went on the 14-6 game-clinching run.
The game featured six lead changes and five scoring ties. UW-L held a 27-19 advantage in bench scoring.
CUW returns to the hardwood on Friday for two games at the Gabe Miller Tip-Off Classic, hosted by UW-Platteville. The Falcons play UW-Platteville on Friday at 7 p.m., before playing UW-Eau Claire on Saturday at 5 p.m.