by Luke Stanczyk
Last year at this time, sophomore Mike Woolf did not even attend Benedictine University.
Saturday night, the transfer guard from North Park University hit was is sure to be one of the biggest shots of BenU’s season.
With eight seconds left and down 65-64, Woolf broke a full-court press and hit a lay-up of Concordia-Wisconsin’s Luke Doedens to give the Eagles the lead with less than three seconds left.
“Coach drew up a play, [he] wanted me to take the ball all the way to the rim to try to create something,” Woolf said. “I split a double team, kept my head up. I saw the last guy step up and I knew I could finish around him.”
“I landed on the baseline and saw that ball go in, and I was pretty excited.”
The Falcons would heave up a last second shot, but it would miss the rim and Benedictine moved to 2-0 in conference by defeating the Northern Athletics Conference North Division favorites.
“He [Woolf] was able to attack the basket. Their big came over to help, but Mike finished,” said Head Coach Keith Bunkenburg. “He used his left, used his body, and did a phenomenal job.”
BenU came back from being down 50-39 with 11 minutes left. They also found themselves down 19-7 early and fought back to cut the deficit to just two, 31-29, at halftime.
“When we’re down, we just want to keep playing hard and keep edging at that point every minute and keep getting buckets,” said junior point guard Jamison Montgomery. “We just have to keep playing hard and stop them from getting second chance points, and that’s what we did.”
For the second straight game junior forward Mark Pace led the team in scoring. He totaled a game-high 20 points (11 in the second half) along with two blocked shots and three steals on the defensive end.
“Mark, offensively, he can do that. He has that potential, but what’s impressed me with Mark is how he’s been defensively,” explained Bunkenburg. “He’s had two nice games in a row for us.”
“I’m from Wisconsin [and I] didn’t get recruited by this school,” Pace explained. “So, I kinda took it personal.”
Along with Pace, Montgomery also had 11 second half points. He finished with 16 in a team-high 32 minutes played.
“J-Mo was put in a really tough situation. He’s playing a lot more minutes than what we expected him to,” Bunkenburg added. “He made some big shots tonight. Normally, he’s not a guy that we’re looking for to score, but he made some big shots.”
Woolf finished with 10 points and six rebounds and freshman guard Matt Mackowiak finished with six points and six rebounds off the bench. Twelve players played for the Eagles, and all of them were able to find a way to get on the stat sheet.
“We have different guys that finish the game, we have different guys that start,” Bunkenburg said. “We’re competing for minutes all the time, and this last week has been really good. We’ve all accepted some roles.”
“There’s been a lot that’s happened to us in the last week or two, and you got to play through adversity as a team,” Woolf said. “I really feel like we’ve come together more as a team. If we keep playing as a team, I think we can beat anybody in this league.”
The win put the Eagles in first place in the NAC South Division. They will travel to divisional foe Concordia-Chicago for their next game
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Bunkenburg said. “We don’t always play well at Concordia, and if we want to win our league, we got to win some games on the road. That will be a big win for us if we can pull it out.”
“It’s a big win, but it’s one game,” said Pace on the victory. “We still have sixteen games left, so we have to take the positives that we did in this game and try to build on it.”