FOND DU LAC, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – It wasn't pretty, but the Marian University men's basketball team got the job done with its eighth straight victory as it took care of visiting Wisconsin Lutheran College, 69-58, inside Sadoff Gymnasium, this evening, Jan. 28.
The Sabres (15-4, 13-1 NACC) shot over 50 percent and committed just 11 turnovers, but was unable to pull away from a Warrior team that has been struggling of late until the final minute of the game. Senior Cody Veleke led four Sabres in double figures with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Senior Jeff Harris and freshman Josh Creed each tallied 11 points off the bench, while sophomore Drew Binversie chipped in 10 points.
The Warriors (5-13, 3-11 NACC) shot just 41.8 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent in the second half and went just 8-for-15 from the free throw line. Jake Jarnigo led three in double figures with 13 points, while Taylor Chladek and Kyle Stelse added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Marian jumped out to an 8-3 advantage early on before WLC marched back and eventually took a 20-17 lead with 8:18 remaining before halftime. Jarnigo and Chladek paced the Warriors with an impressive display of shooting in the first half, combining to go 8-for-11, including 3-for-6 from three-point range.
Chladek gave the Warriors a huge lift off the bench and supplied momentum for his team going into halftime when WLC benefitted from a Marian turnover and he knocked down a three with a few seconds winding down to cut the deficit to 37-33.
Marian led by as many as nine points in the opening stanza by using a 13-2 run late in the half. Veleke capped the run with a three-pointer to give the Sabres a 35-26 lead with 3:09 left.
Wisconsin Lutheran, which has fallen victim to nine single digit losses in conference play, knows a little something about close games. The Warriors came out of halftime and gained the lead quickly, using an 11-4 run to take a 44-41 advantage on a Jarnigo jumper at the 14:31 mark.
However, two Marian possessions later and the Sabres were back in front, 45-44, following a Creed rebound tip-in.
The Sabre bench put together yet another superb effort in a win, outscoring WLC's bench, 28-20. Creed tied Binversie for the team-lead in rebounds and registered two blocks on the evening as well. Montrell Hobbs scored five points and hauled in six rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
With 8:29 remaining and the game tied at 52, the Sabres called on Mike Keller and he delivered with a baby hook to give his team a 54-52 lead, one they would not relinquish.
The Sabres are 13-1 in conference play for the first time since opening the 1989-90 Lake Michigan Conference season with an identical mark en route to a regular season championship. With the rest of the league idle due to weather postponements, Marian now holds a 2.5-game lead in the standings.
Marian will head to Illinois to do battle with host Dominican University (4-14, 3-10 NACC) in its next game Saturday, Feb. 1. Tip is set for 2 p.m.
(78-79), (79-80), (80-81), (82-83), (83-84),
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NCAA Tournaments (2)