MEQUON, Wis. -- Concordia University Wisconsin's Men's Basketball team enters Saturday's Northern Athletics Collegiate Confernece road game against Rockford University with a three-game winning streak. The Falcons struggled early with a roster that had a limited number of returning starters, but they have found their footing as of late.
Entering Saturday's contest, the Falcons are 3-3 in NACC play and 5-5 overall. Below are three keys to their recent success that may give the Falcons the edge as competition heats up.
Capitalizing on opponent's errors
CUW has been deadly when they take advantage of its opponent's mistakes. The Falcons are first in the conference in steals per game (9.2) and second in in offensive rebounds (13.1). These stats not only look good, but also have translated into points.
The Falcons have scored 20 or more points off turnovers six times and have only scored in single digits on second chance opportunities twice. They have scored an average of 19.2 points off turnovers and 16.8 second chance points in their winning efforts.
CUW scored 27 points off turnovers and 13 on second chances against Dominican University, for a total of 40 points, a season best when combining the two categories. It set a new high in the following game, an 88-64 win at Finlandia University. The Falcons scored 23 points off FU miscues and 25 points on second chance opportunities, for 48 total points in those categories.
New faces, new highs
The Falcons entered the season with several new faces, new starters and a new playing style. With inexperience comes the opportunity to prove one's self. And several players have stepped up in the first 10 games, setting personal bests along the way. Three Falcons set career scoring highs in the season opener against Carroll Univeresity and several players have set new personal bests multiple times.
Sophomore Keith Kahlfeldt (New Berlin, Wis.) netted a career high against Carroll, scoring 20 points, and topped that mark against Aurora University with a 33-point performance. He has also set a new high in rebounds twice this season. Sophomore Bradley Prinsen (Oostburg, Wis.) also started strong with 17 points against Carroll. He matched that high against Wisconsin Lutheran College, surpassed it with 18 against Lakeland College and then posted another career best two days later against Benedictine University. Prinsen had 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 6-of-9 on free throws against the Eagles.
Another player who has continually improved his scoring is freshman Eric Kittel (Brillion, Wis.). Kittel scored his first collegiate points in a 10-point effort at No. 13 UW-Whitewater. He has set a new high for scoring three times since. Kittel put up 13 against Wisconsin Lutheran, 14 at Benedictine and 20 at Milliken University, including a game-winning halft court buzzer beater from half court. Kittel has also topped his assist total three times, with seven against Lakeland being the highest.
Dominating both halves
CUW has been working all season to find the right formula with so many new parts. A big trend that has emerged is its play down the stretch in both halves. The Falcons are 4-0 when they lead going into halftime, but are 1-5 when trailing. In their last two games, at Dominican University and Finlandia, the Falcons went in to the locker room with double-digit leads.
The Falcons balance their strong starts with a sustained effort in the second half. They have outscored their opponents in all of their wins, with the exception of their win against Dominican, where the Stars outscored CUW, 39-38, in the second. The Falcons had a second half comeback against Milliken, outscoring the Big Blue 56-42. The Falcons are 3-1 when they lead with 10 minutes to play and are 3-0 with five minutes left in the game.