By: Jay Ahuja
In a close game, Benedictine University defeated 4th ranked Illinois Wesleyan, 61-60.
“Illinois Wesleyan is a game that we have been looking forward to since we receive the schedule. We knew that they are a great team and that we would have to play hard and execute our game plan to win the game. We did a great job defensively. We were excited and we played hard. I think that the atmosphere of the fans at the game played a big part in our energy as well. It was an all around great experience and it shows that we are looking to be really good this season,” said junior Niji Lomax.
Sophomore forward Adam Reynolds was the unexpected hero tonight, only scoring seven points but making a few couple big shots down the stretch. With BenU up 55-54 with a little under three minutes left, Reynolds received a huge offensive rebound and tip-in to help the Eagles lead 57-54. Illinois Wesleyan came back with a three pointer by guard Jordan Nelson. Benedictine brought the ball up the court with two minutes left, and junior guard John Dodson drove the lane for a layup. Nelson came back and hit a consecutive three, giving Wesleyan a 60-59 lead. That is when Reynolds stepped up, delivering the contested lay up and giving Benedictine the 61-60 lead. Wesleyan had three opportunities to make the shot to win the game, but Benedictine held strong, and came out with the close victory.
Sophomore guard Tahron Harvey led Benedictine in scoring with13 points, and sophomore guard Michael Blaszczyk grabbed eight rebounds as well, leading the team in boards.
“We came into this game confident and did not lose an ounce of that confidence throughout the game. We had the ability in us to execute and won the game. Now we are on to the next win,” said junior Mike Carter.
Wesleyan was a Final Four team out of the CCIW, but couldn’t gain a solid lead at any point throughout the game against the Eagles. The first half began with both teams gaining leads and then losing them. It wasn’t until the 15-minute mark that Benedictine was able to grab a 10-2 run, which gave them the largest lead of the game at 24-16. The eight-point lead was held until the final couple minutes, when Wesleyan scored six un-answered points to close the half. The score at the intermission was 31-29.
“It was a great team win. Everyone contributed and it felt great to get that victory. We work hard every day to win games like these. We are just going to stay on our grind, keep working hard and prepare for conference play,” said junior Tim Reamer.
Benedictine came off a 14-12 record last season.
“Last season, we had a lot of senior leadership. It caused many guys this year to step up and be accountable for their actions. We are doing a great job as a team so far,” said senior Tim McGinty.
Benedictine will face Milwaukee School of Engineering this Saturday in Milwaukee at 4 p.m.