HOWARDS GROVE, Wis.- Everything was going as the Falcons had planned for the first 16 minutes of Wednesday night's men's basketball matchup. CUW had a 38-26 lead and crisp passing was creating quality scoring opportunities.
All of that vanished over the final 240 ticks of the first half as the undefeated Muskies scored the final 17 points of the session to take a 43-38 lead. The dry spell was still far from over, however, as the hosts added the first five points of the second half, making for an incredible 22 point run all told.
From that 48-38 advantage, the LC lead grew to 55-42 with 17 minutes remaining and eventually the Lakeland margin ballooned to 68-52 with 11:30 on the scoreboard clock ... but those who thought the visiting Falcons had been (de)taloned were in for a surprise.
This time it was Shawn Cassidy's team, playing without number two scorer Brian Jackson among others, putting together five minutes of shutout defense while whittling the deficit to 68-63 at 6:52 via an 11 point run of their own.
Suddenly CUW was back in the game and like almost all LC-CUW battles, this one remained up for grabs until the closing seconds.
Concordia actually took the lead briefly at 79-78 on a Casey Kegley (Sr./ Grafton, Wis.) layup with 1:07 remaining in regulation but Lakeland had an answer when Justin Ward completed a 3-point play to put the Muskies back on top 81-79 with :41 left.
CUW misfired on their ensuing possession before Zach Van Eggen hit two huge charity tosses with :31 remaining to give his Muskie contingent an 83-79 advanatge.
Steve Zielinski's (Sr./ Brown Deer, Wis.) dunk got CUW within 83-81 at the :20 mark and CUW quickly fouled Ward who hit just one of two free throws. That allowed CUW a chance to tie on a long ball in the closing seconds.
The shot missed, however, and LC added two more free throws as time expired. Ward led the Muskies with 21 points while Joey Burris managed 18 and Jake Schwarz 17.
Mark Pace (Sr./ Milwaukee, Wis.) was phenomenal for CUW, hitting nine of 14 from long range as part of a 29 point performance that included 9 rebounds. Sophomore Malcolm Bowers (Germantown, Wis.) added 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists for the Falcons.
"We came up a little short tonight; not for lack of effort- just a lack of execution," offered Coach Cassidy. "Injuries have forced us to play different lineups with altered rotations. We have a variety of players stepping up to play significant roles and that will pay off as the season progresses."