AURORA, Ill. (SabreAthletics.Com) – The eighth seeded Marian University men's basketball team took on the top-seeded Aurora Spartans, today, in a quarterfinals matchup of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Tournament. Marian's defense was challenged by consistent shooting by the Spartans as the Sabres were knocked out of the tournament with a 76-62 setback to finish the season.
Accuracy by the Spartans (19-7) eliminated chances for the Sabres (11-15) to creep back into contention as they shot 49 percent as a team. The Spartans had three players score double digits, while Tyler Hall and Brandon Smith led the game in scoring with 21 and 20 points respectively.
Marian's, Alex Stecker, was efficient from beyond the arc as he knocked down 4-of-5 long balls en-route to a team-high 14 points. Montrell Hobbs and Carvell Oliver were also a factor in the Sabres' offensive attack as they each finished the day with 10 points each.
The Sabres got off to a quick start and were able to gain a 6-point lead just over four minutes into play. Continuous answers by the Spartans decreased the lead, but two free throws by Hobbs had the Sabres on top by one half-way through the half. The Spartans gained some momentum in the final ten minutes, but the Sabres kept it close to make it a two-point game going into halftime.
It was still two-point game just over five minutes into the half when the Spartans scored seven unanswered points to increase their lead to nine. The Spartans held onto the lead, eventually gaining one as high as 17 points, to finish off the Sabres.
The Sabres shot 35.7 percent as a team on 20-of-56 shooting, while going 38.9 percent from beyond the arc on 7-of-18 shooting. It was also a solid day from the free-throw line for the Sabres as they shot 83.3 percent, going 15-of-18.
Mike Keller brought down a team-high six rebounds on the day. He and his brother Mark are Marian's only two seniors. They finished the day with nine points combined.
The Kellers have played a large role in the Sabres' success over the last four years and their presence will greatly be missed. Many players are returning to the Sabres next season, however, and they will look to add some freshman talent in hopes of going even further next year.
(78-79), (79-80), (80-81), (82-83), (83-84),
(87-88), (89-90), (90-91), (98-99), (99-00),
NCAA Tournaments (2)