FOND DU LAC, Wis.- Marian and Concordia Wisconsin (1-2/ 1-0 NAC) hooked up in a classic defensive struggle last evening with the visiting Falcons hanging on for a thrilling 59-58 win in the NAC opener for both schools after Marian's Cody Veleke missed a potential game-tying free throw with one tick left on the game clock.
CUW players also fell victim to nerves down the stretch, missing four of five free throws and turning the ball over five separate times in the final three minutes to make the ending more exciting than necessary.
The excruciating closing seconds included a Falcon turnover with just four seconds remaining and Concordia leading 59-56. CUW compounded that error by fouling as Veleke attempted a desperation three pointer just before the final buzzer. Veleke made his first two shots but missed the third after a CUW "icing" timeout to give Shawn Cassidy's team their first win of the season.
The contest was close throughout with the Sabres' largest first half margin being five points and CUW clinging to a 32-30 lead at the break.
Sophomore Malcolm Bowers' (Germantown, Wis.) layup with 4:35 left provided the largest Falcon lead of the second half (56-50), but CUW took only two shots for the rest of the game, hampered offensively by the turnovers and missed free throws.
Pace and Donaldson led CUW with 13 points each. The Falcons shot a respectable 43% from the floor, but were just three of 15 on 3-point attempts and hit only 10 of 19 charity tosses including those pressure misses down the stretch.
Sam Koslowski paced Marian (2-3/ 0-1 NAC) with 19 points and Veleke added 13. Marian shot just 32% from the floor including five of 18 from long range as both defenses dominated.
Concordia won the battle of the boards 45-38 behind senior Brian Jackson's (Carol Stream, Ill.) monster 15 rebound effort, but the Falcons committed 19 turnovers.
Cassidy's cagers travel to Elmhurst College for a 7:00pm non conference matchup on Thursday.