MEQUON, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – Suffocating defense and another balanced effort offensively put an end to a 12-game losing streak in the all-time series and sent the Marian University men's basketball team to a convincing, 75-55, victory over host Concordia University Wisconsin inside John Buuck Field House, Tuesday evening, Jan. 14.
The Sabres (10-4, 9-1 NACC) held the Falcons – who entered the game third in the league with 83.3 ppg in conference play – to just 32.7 (18-for-55) percent shooting and forced them into 19 turnovers, which were turned into 19 points as Marian picked up its first victory over CUW (7-7, 5-5 NACC) since 2007. Marian shot 60 percent in the second half and finished the game 50.9 percent (28-for-55) from the field.
"It was a great effort and the guys really stuck to the game plan," Head Coach Mark Boyle said. "We controlled the pace and played good defense against a team that scores a lot of points."
Senior Cody Veleke led all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 5-for-5 from the foul line. Freshman Josh Creed turned in his fourth straight double digit performance on the bench with a career-high 16 points on 8-of-13 from the field, while adding five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Sophomore Alex Stecker chipped in a season-high 11 points to go with four rebounds and six assists.
After two quick lead changes in the opening stages, the Sabres seized control with a 12-2 run to take a 14-5 lead just 6:06 into the game and never looked back.
"That early run in the first half, we got a couple turnovers when we needed them," Boyle said. "The dunk by Josh [Creed] and the three by Jeff [Harris] really gave us confidence."
Marian finished the half on an 11-4 run to grab a 12-point, 34-22, advantage at the midway point. The Sabres put eight players in the scoring column with a balanced first half and held the Falcons to just 26 percent shooting from the field.
Out of halftime, senior Sam Koslowski drained a three to give Marian its biggest lead of the game at that point, 37-22. The Neenah native would finish with a modest eight points on 2-of-3 shooting, both field goals connected from downtown. He added six rebounds and two assists as well.
A 10-0 run by the Falcons followed and forced Boyle to call a timeout.
"It was a time when we needed to make sure we got a good shot," Boyle said. "The guys just needed to regroup. We had to get back to what we were doing before we let it get too far away."
And regroup, they did. The two main cogs of the night for the Sabres were Veleke and Creed, who combined for 23 second-half points on 10-for-11 shooting and 3-for-3 from the free throw line.
Creed notched six points on the rally-killing 14-0 run to take a seven-point game into a 21-point blowout with 9:17 remaining in regulation. Veleke capped the run with an emphatic three-point play.
"I think he's gained some confidence and that's been the key to him stepping it up," Boyle said of Creed during his streak of four straight double-digit-point efforts. "He knows what he should be doing and he's going after it.
"Our bench guys are playing with a sense of urgency and focus and they are making things happen," added Boyle. "There's no drop off in energy and they pick us up."
For the remainder of the contest, the lead hovered around 20 points and revealed the staying power of this year's squad with a solid all-around effort for its ninth conference win in 10 games.
Marian will take on idle and second-place Lakeland (11-3, 7-2 NACC) in a highly-anticipated match-up inside Sadoff Gymnasium in Fond du Lac this Thursday, Jan. 16. The Sabres will look to break another long, unfavorable streak as they try to end an eight-game skid against their league rivals.
"It's the second game in a big week," Boyle said of Thursday's game against Lakeland. "Tonight's win gives us confidence and we are starting to accomplish the standard to which we want to play. It's another challenge and will be a good measure of where we're at."
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
(78-79), (79-80), (80-81), (82-83), (83-84),
(87-88), (89-90), (90-91), (98-99), (99-00),
NCAA Tournaments (2)