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Strong second half sends Men's Basketball past MSOE in NAC Quarterfinals

Strong second half sends Men's Basketball past MSOE in NAC Quarterfinals

MEQUON, Wis.- The Concordia University Wisconsin men's basketball rallied back from a 13-point halftime deficit and closed the game on a 30-11 run over the final 12 minutes to defeat MSOE, 66-56, in the opening round of the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon at the R. John Buuck Field House.

CUW (18-8) will take on Lakeland College in the NAC Semifinals Tuesday night at the Moose & Dona Woltzen Gymnasium in Sheboygan, Wis. The Muskies advanced by defeating Marian University, 95-67. Tip-off between the Falcons and Muskies is set for 7 p.m.

The second half was all CUW Saturday as they outscored the Raiders 44-21 over the final 20 minutes of the game. Senior Steve Zielinski (Brown Deer, Wis.) was a force after halftime, scoring nine points and pulling down 11 rebounds, six of those offensive, in the second half alone.

The start of the game was all Raiders as they came out of the gates and built an early 10-1 lead just three minutes into play. MSOE would continue to build its lead as they took a 35-22 advantage into halftime.

MSOE shot 51.9 percent (14-for-27) in the first half behind 18 points from freshman Austin Stueck. The Falcons countered with 32.1 percent (9-for-28) first-half shooting. Seniors Mark Pace (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Casey Kegley (Grafton, Wis.) each scored a first half best six points for the Falcons.

The Falcons would remain trailing by double-digits for the first six minutes of the second half until CUW rattled off a 7-0 run after trailing 41-29 to bring the MSOE lead to 41-36 with 13:08 remaining in the game. The Raiders would answer back with a 4-0 run to push the lead back to 45-38 with 11:40 remaining.

The Raiders would lead by seven again at 50-43 with 7:49 remaining in the game before CUW marched back, this time using a 9-2 run capped off by a Zielinski layup to tie the game at 52-52 with 4:47 remaining. MSOE tried stopping the Falcons momentum with a timeout, but CUW scored the next four points on layups by senior Bryan Donaldson (Greenfield, Wis.) and sophomore Malcom Bowers (Germantown, Wis.) to take a 56-52 advantage.

The Falcons would continue their strong finish, until the game-ending run and capping off its strong second half for the victory.

CUW finished the game shooting 38.8 percent (26-for-67) from the floor. It held MSOE to 27.3 percent (6-for-22) in the second half, as the Raiders shot 40.8 percent (20-for-49) in the game. CUW also held a big scoring advantage in the paint after halftime, as they outscored MSOE 24-6 in that category.

Pace scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead CUW, while Zielinski finished with nine points and 12 rebounds. Kegley added 11 points for the Falcons while senior Brian Jackson (Carol Stream, Ill.) added 10 points and six rebounds. CUW outrebounded MSOE, 50-28.

MSOE (17-9) was led by Stueck who finished with a game-high 23 points, but was limited to five after halftime. John Cording added 11 points for the Raiders.