Men’s Basketball claims third straight NAC North Division title on Senior Night
VIDEO: Schneider post-game interview
VIDEO: Watch a replay of the entire game
MEQUON, Wis. - The air was thick with intensity on Tuesday night and the Concordia University Wisconsin men's basketball team handled the pressure en route to their third straight Northern Athletics Conference North Division title, with a 69-66 victory over Edgewood College inside the R. John Buuck Field House.
Mitchell Schneider and Luke Doedens knew the momentum needed to be shifted CUW's direction and they made sure that happened in the second half. The Falcons senior duo scored 26 second half points and the Falcons danced their way to victory behind impact play from key reserves.
"I am proud of our mental toughness," head coach Shawn Cassidy said. "There were some key guys who stepped up and gave us valuable minutes tonight. We did the little things tonight and our defense was outstanding down the stretch."
On a night when eight seniors were recognized after the game for their commitment and dedication to the program, it was juniors Bryan Donaldson, Brian Jackson and Steve Zielinski who provided the spark the Falcons needed. Donaldson (Greenfield, Wis.) made a critical layup in the second half to keep the momentum in CUW's favor, Zielinski (Brown Deer, Wis.) scored a season-high 11 points in the first half and Jackson (Carol Stream, Ill.) tallied 13 points.
"Steve was a key factor in the first half, changing the momentum in our favor with his ability to defend the paint," Cassidy said. "Mitch and Luke played well again, but it was our point guards who made significant plays with when we needed it."
During the Falcons three-straight NAC North Division titles, they have accumulated a 40-8 league record.
Schneider (New Holstein, Wis.) paced the Falcons with 18 points, including three 3-pointers, to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. Doedens (Cedarburg, Wis.) added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Senior Matt Paluchniak (Oostburg, Wis.) finished with five points and five assists in the win.
Ben Wisniewski added a game-high 27 points on 12-of-19 shooting, to go along with six rebounds, four assists and a game-high four steals. Derek Nkemnji added 13 points for the Eagles (18-6, 12-4 NAC).
The game featured 12 lead changes and three scoring ties, but it was Schneider's step-back 3-pointer from the right corner that gave CUW (19-5, 14-2 NAC) the lead for good with 9:37 remaining in the game. The triple jump started a Falcons 17-5 run that gave them a 10-point lead, their largest of the game.
EC fought back and cut its deficit to three several times down the stretch, but CUW's 5-of-6 free throw shooting in the final minute sealed the victory.
CUW will host Benedictine University on Saturday in the NAC Challenge Game inside the friendly confines of the R. John Buuck Field House. Game time has yet to be determined.