SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – A wire-to-wire road victory snapped a nine-year drought at Woltzen Gymnasium and spoiled the Senior Night festivities for Lakeland College as the Marian University men's basketball team registered a 79-64 victory, Tuesday evening, Feb. 11.
The Sabres (17-6, 15-3 NACC) entered the night looking to shake off a two-game skid and wound up making a statement to the rest of the league. Marian never trailed as freshman Josh Creed tied a career-high with 16 points to lead five Sabres in double figures. The Muskies (16-6, 12-5 NACC) had entered the night with a 10-1 home mark and hadn't lost to the Sabres in the friendly confines of Woltzen Gymnasium since December 2004.
Marian made it a night they would like to forget as a stifling defensive effort paved the way to a convincing victory Tuesday night.
"Defensively, we really made it tough for them to score," Head Coach Mark Boyle said. "In the first half, we just did an outstanding job. Nothing came easy for them and it set the tone."
Lakeland averaged a league-best 85.5 points per game this season, but managed just 25 in the first half. Other than Kurt Jansen's 17 points off the bench, the Muskies put only two others in double figures as James Oshkeshequoam and Joey Burris each fell below their season averages with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The NACC's leading scorer, Justin Ward, played limited minutes in the first half due to foul trouble before exiting in the second half due to injury. He finished with one point and six rebounds.
"Our focus was just excellent tonight," Boyle said. "Our will to play and reluctance to get beat was there. This was a huge win for us."
Five Sabres reached double figures, in all, with Mike Keller adding 13 points, Jeff Harris 11 and Cody Veleke and Alex Stecker with 10 points apiece. Creed tied Drew Binversie with a game-high eight rebounds as well. Binversie chipped in eight points and five assists as well.
Marian jumped out to a 15-5 advantage, holding the Muskies under 10 points past the midway point in the first half. Lakeland responded quickly to eventually bring the deficit to three points at 25-22 with 2:29 remaining in the first half. A pair of Sam Koslowski free throws, followed by back-to-back three's by Harris and Koslowski and the Sabres entered halftime with a head of steam and a 33-25 lead.
Koslowski came into the game needing just 11 points to eclipse 1,000 for his career, but finished two points shy of the mark. Despite putting off the milestone for one more game, the senior was able to get the job done in other facets. The Neenah native tallied six rebounds, five assists and four steals in 29 minutes to drive the Sabres to victory.
"Whenever they made a run, we had an answer," Boyle said. "We reached deep. Our defense in the first half was something we could really get momentum off of and we used that in the second half."
After pushing the lead back to double digits, the Muskies once again cut the deficit to four points at 37-33 with 16:38 left in the second half. However, as was the story all night, the Sabres had an answer.
Both sides traded baskets and with the lead at six point, Harris drove to the basket and earned an old-fashioned three-point play to quiet the crowd.
After a Mitchell School layup to cut the deficit to seven, Creed slammed it over Lakeland's Jacob Servais, who also committed the foul. Back-to-back three-point plays had Marian back up double digits at 55-45 and a few minutes later, the Sabres used a 17-5 run to really break it open, taking a 76-56 lead that was too much for the Muskies to overcome.
"We can enjoy this, but there's things we still have to take care of," Boyle said. "We want to win the conference and the best way to do it is to take charge ourselves. We did that tonight. I can honestly say that there wasn't one player tonight that had a bad game. Everyone played well."
The Sabres will be back in action Saturday, Feb. 15, at Concordia University Chicago (5-17, 2-15 NACC). Tip-off is set for 2 p.m inside Geiseman Gymnasium in River Forest, Ill.
(78-79), (79-80), (80-81), (82-83), (83-84),
(87-88), (89-90), (90-91), (98-99), (99-00),
NCAA Tournaments (2)