by Luke Stanczyk
Junior forward Mark Pace scored 14 points off the bench to lead the Benedictine University Men’s Basketball team to a 54-51 win over Milwaukee School of Engineering on Tuesday night.
The BenU Eagles used a second half performance in which they outscored the Raiders 31-19 to come away with the win. Trailing 32-23 at halftime, BenU would rally back late, and three-pointers from sophomore guard Alex Edmondson and Pace would help to ice the victory.
“We just gave a better effort,” said Pace on the team’s second half performance. “The coach put the right lineup in, so we just told ourselves that we are not going to lose this game and that we are going to lock down.”
While Pace’s offense helped lead the team, his defense is what his teammates commended him on.
“Mark Pace did an excellent job on one of their better players,” explained junior point guard Jamison Montgomery. “He really locked down.”
That player Pace defended was MSOE forward Oren Bloom. After scoring eight points in the first half, Head Coach Keith Bunkenburg decided to put Pace on him in the second half.
“Oren Bloom had some really easy looks inside. We put Mark on him, and I don’t think he scored on Mark,” explained Bunkenburg.
After the game, many of the players and coaches had much to say about Montgomery, who started at point guard because of the absence of suspended guard Nate Green.
“Jamison is an emotional leader no matter if he’s playing or not. The great thing about him is that he’s always very positive, even when I get on him,” explained Bunkenburg. “He is a great player to coach. He’s going to have to step it up with Nate not here, and he did a great job tonight.”
“Jamison, our point guard, led us today emotionally with the rally that we had,” Pace said.
In addition to Pace’s 14 bench points, senior forward David Bernard added nine points off the bench. Edmondson finished with nine points and Montgomery added four points and three assists.
In the rebounding department, sophomores Andy Crutchfield (forward) and Michael Woolf (guard) led the team with eight a piece while Pace and junior guard Dario Jokic added six.
The win put the Eagles at 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the Northern Athletics Conference.
“It’s huge. It shows that our team can win in conference,” said Bernard on the victory. “Also, it shows that we can win as a team.”
“It was very big, especially with the situation that happened to the team where we didn’t have our point guard,” Pace added. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d be able to actually get this win, but we rallied together and we got the win.”
Heading into their next game against Concordia-Wisconsin, the Eagles look to improve on their free throw shooting.
“It’s a mental thing,” explained Bunkenburg on his team’s 9-for-21 performance at the free throw line on Tuesday. “I think we didn’t shoot the ball well from the free throw line last game, and we got a lot of guys playing that didn’t play [much] last year. We got some inexperience. We’ll get better.”
BenU will take on CUW on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. at the Dan and Ada Rice Center.
“They’re big, strong and quick,” added Bunkenburg on Concordia-Wisconsin. “It will be a challenge for us. The nice thing is we do have them here [at home], but we have to play better than we did tonight to beat them.”