The Benedictine Men’s Basketball team defended their NACC conference title with their 93-89 win over Concordia University-Wisconsin in the NACC Tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon in the Rice Center. The win also puts Benedictine in the NCAA Division III National Playoffs for the second consecutive year one year after going to the NCAA Division III championship game.
“What a game and a great win,” Head Coach Keith Bunkenburg said, “Hard to win conference titles and conference tournament titles to do it two years in a row is phenomenal. These guys have been awesome and I am proud of them, but we’ve got to move on and get ready for the next game.”
The win was not an easy one for the Eagles as the Falcons gave them a scare early. Within the first five minutes of the game, the Eagles found themselves down 15 due to a Falcons hot start. Down 20-5 with just over 14 minutes left in the first half, the Eagles Junior Guard Brayden Olsen hit a three pointer to help give the team some momentum. Minutes later, the Eagles opened up an 8-0 run that was started by an emphatic dunk by Senior Guard Michael Blaszczyk. With six minutes left in the half, Freshman Forward Kenny Bogus converted a three pointer to give the Eagles their first lead of the game, 31-29. The Eagles would not trail during the rest of the half taking a 43-41 lead into the half.
Concordia-Wisconsin started the second half much like the first as they hit three consecutive three point shots to take a 50-43 lead within the first two minutes of the half. The Eagles battled back from there using a 7-0 run to tie the game with just over 15 minutes remaining and used an 11-2 run to take a 65-56 lead at the midpoint of the half. Concordia-Wisconsin fought back though, getting within four points before the Eagles opened a 9-0 run. The Falcons did not quit though, making multiple three point shots in the final minutes and pulling within three points before converted Eagles free throws put the game on ice 93-89.
“We just worry about what we’ve got,” Senior Guard Tahron Harvey said, “I don’t really think about last year because we are trying to make more history…I just think about us and getting more W’s.”
The Eagles will have the opportunity to get more wins during their first round of the Division III NCAA playoffs when they play Wartburg College in River Falls, Wisconsin on Friday night.