MEQUON, Wis. - It sure wasn't pretty, but Concordia University Wisconsin's character and toughness showed down the stretch as it earned an 89-85 overtime men's basketball victory over Marian University during Northern Athletics Conference play inside the R. John Buuck Field House on Tuesday night.
The Falcons' seniors stepped to the forefront after trailing by eight points with 1:28 remaining in regulation. Playing in front of an energetic student section, Mitchell Schneider drained a triple and sank a pair of free throws to jump start CUW. Following two MU free throws, Nick Doedens (Germantown, Wis.) made a jumper to cut the deficit to three points with 14 seconds to play.
With the game on the line, CUW made an impressive defensive stand before Luke Doedens drained a 25-foot 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds to play in regulation, tying the game at 77-77. The Sabres full-court pass failed as junior Brian Jackson intercepted the ball.
During overtime the Falcons made 8-of-12 free throws to stay undefeated at home and in a tie for first place in the Northern Athletics Conference North Division.
"Tonight was a replay of our two games at CIT," head coach Shawn Cassidy said. "We found ourselves down in the closing minutes and fought our way back into the game. The character of this team showed tonight and we are not going to go down without fight.
"This team has a lot of guys who have been with the program for four years. They have been in the heat of the battle before and I have the utmost trust in their decision making. With us being on the road the past two weeks we were physically and mentally tired tonight, but we came up with huge defensive stops on key possessions."
Luke Doedens (Cedarburg, Wis.) led all scorers with 27 points, including five 3-pointers, to go along with seven rebounds, a career-high five steals and four assists. Schneider (New Holstein, Wis.) scored 18 points, stole four passes and assisted on three field goals. Senior Matt Paluchniak (Oostburg, Wis.) finished the victory with a career-high nine rebounds, to go along with five points and a team-high five assists.
"Our seniors emerged when the game was on the line," Cassidy said. "They have been through these types of games before and they knew when to rise to the occasion.
"I want to applaud our crowd tonight, especially the student section. They came with the same enthusiasm and energy they had this past weekend at CIT. I really believe their cheering and noise rattled Marian at the end of tonight's victory."
Jackson (Carol Stream, Ill.) scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and stole a career-high five passes. Freshman Ben Brooke (Viroqua, Wis.) also added 12 points and five rebounds for CUW off the bench in 17 minutes of action.
"Brian made a lot of key plays for us tonight that won't show up in the box score," Cassidy said. "He created problems for Marian on the defensive end that helped us get crucial stops. Ben again played a big role off the bench for us in this win. With him being a freshman he sure doesn't play like this is new to him."
MU had four players in double-digits and was led by Mike Keller's 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Jeff Harris and Code Veleke scored a combined 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Sam Koslowski chipped in 15 points off the bench for the Sabres.
CUW forced 25 MU turnovers, including three in overtime, and scored 32 points off those Sabres miscues. The Falcons also hauled in 18 offensive rebounds and converted those second chances into 22 points. In the end, CUW stole a season-high 19 passes.
In the first half the Falcons led for all of 4:29 as they entered the locker room tied at 32-32.
During the second period it was all Sabres as they led for the entire half, expect for the final 0.4 seconds after Luke Doedens nailed the game-tying 3-pointer.
In overtime both teams went back and forth before Schneider made 1-of-2 free throws to give CUW the lead for good with 54 seconds left in the game.
CUW returns to the court on Thursday for a 7 p.m. home matchup against Maranatha Baptist Bible College. The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 12, but inclement weather postponed the game.
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