MEQUON, Wis. – Over the past three weeks Garrett Wenzelburger has slowly come into his own and Friday night he exploded for a career-high 21 points to propel Concordia University Wisconsin past Concordia University Chicago, 83-75, in front of a boisterous Concordia Invitational Tournament crowd.
The Falcons will take on Concordia University Nebraska on Saturday at 7 p.m. and are playing for their second-straight CIT championship. CUW's contest against CUC also counted towards the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference standings, which moved them back to .500 (7-7).
The 6-foot-6 forward did the majority of his damage in the second half with 15 points, as he excited the crowd with athletic moves around the hoop. The final 20 minutes of play featured eight scoring ties and three lead changes before CUW outscored CUC 14-6 over the last four minutes of play.
While Wenzelburger (sophomore, Hartland, Wis.) energized the crowd, freshman Eric Kittel (Brillion, Wis.) quietly controlled the offense and knocked down three critical 3-pointers in the second half, and finished with 11 points to help in the victory.
The 3-pointers weren't going in for the Falcons, so they went inside and tallied a season-high 56 points in the paint. Much of the credit for the victory can go to the bench, as the Falcons outscored the Cougars' reserves, 40-12.
CUW (9-9, 7-7 NACC) took advantage of CUC's 15 turnovers and converted those errors into 24 points, including 13 in the first half. Wenzelburger (Hartland, Wis.) also pulled down seven rebounds and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Sophomores Brett Boettcher (New Holstein, Wis.), Keith Kahlfeldt (New Berlin, Wis.) and Bradley Prinsen (Oostburg, Wis.) each scored 10 points.
Mike Walmer led the Cougars (5-13, 2-12 NACC) with 17 points, while Brandon Stinson had the game's only double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds, including 12 rebounds in the first half. Marcus Elston had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Kostas Doxakis tallied 12 points off the bench.
CUC earned momentum at the intermission after using a 5-1 scoring run to own a 34-28 advantage. CUW stayed in the game during the opening 20 minutes of play because it received 13 points from the bench. Boettcher hauled in eight rebounds, four offensive, in the first period.
As the crowd got louder, the Falcons took back the momentum and held the lead for the final 5:34 of the game. CUW's largest lead of eight points occurred after Wenzelburger drained the second of two game-clinching free throws with one second on the clock.