MILWAUKEE, Wis. (SabreAthletics.com) – Sophomore Josh Creed poured in a game-high 22 points, including 15 in the second half, but it was timely defense late that propelled the Marian University men's basketball team to a 59-57 win over host MSOE at the Kern Center, tonight, Dec. 2.
"We really battled, really defended well. It was a grinder," said Head Coach Mark Boyle, who's in his 27th season with the Sabres. "We had to outfight them, go out there and be the aggressor, and not let them get the upper hand on us."
After a late turnover gave the ball back to MSOE (2-4, 1-2 NACC) down two points and with 21 seconds left, the Sabre defense stepped up to deny several opportunities that could have tied the game before time expired. Creed's tremendous effort paced the Sabres (3-2, 2-0 NACC) offensively, who shot 56 percent (14-for-25) in the second half after a dismal first half display to secure their third win in a row.
For the second straight game, junior Drew Binversie finished one rebound shy of a double-double to go along with 10 points.
Marian struggled from the outset, falling behind 11-4 more than 8 minutes into the game. However, it turned things on in a hurry as freshman Connor Morovits capped a 5-0 run with a 3-pointer from the corner and forced the Raiders to take their first timeout.
MSOE would eventually take a 25-21 lead into the break after holding the Sabres under 31 percent (8-for-26) from the floor.
Marian would take its first lead of the second half following an Isiah Daniels layup at the 11:24 mark to make it 37-36.
Both teams would trade leads back-and-forth over the course of the next 10 minutes or so until the final 3:31 when the Sabres embarked on a 12-2 run to take a 6-point lead. Carvell Oliver led the rush with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 51-50. He then followed it up with a jumper to give the Sabres a one point lead.
Creed then found a lane to the basket and a Jeremiah Erdmann foul allowed him to convert an old-fashioned 3-point play. Now leading 55-53, Marian continue to pad its lead with back-to-back buckets by Binversie and Creed to make it 59-53 with 1:10 left in the game.
"I thought we really asserted ourselves at that point," Boyle said. "All night long, Josh made some really tough baskets and Drew got the free throw line and rebounded well."
An Erdmann lay-in followed by two Austin Stueck free throws suddenly cut the advantage back to one possession, but the Sabres had the ball with 34 seconds remaining and a chance to run out the clock.
MSOE chose not to foul right away and it paid off in the form of a Marian turnover that gave the Raiders a chance to tie or take the lead with 21 seconds left.
Out of a timeout, MSOE got the ball into Greg Pigg, but he missed the layup and it went out of bounds last touched by the Sabres. The Raiders would get two more opportunities in the final 5 seconds, but good defense forced those into off-balanced shots before time finally expired.
"Carvell, Mark Keller and Josh really made it tough on them in their last possession," Boyle said. "This was a battle and we're happy with the 2-0 start in conference."
The Sabres are in the midst of a rigorous weekly slate as they have yet to take on Wisconsin Lutheran and Rockford. Both contests will be Marian's first at home, beginning with WLC this Thursday, Dec. 4, at 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)