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Jake Schwarz(Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) scored all 23 of his points in the second half and the Lakeland College men's basketball team used a stout defensive effort in the second half to defeat Edgewood College 79-65 in both teams' Northern Athletic Conference opener Tuesday night at Woltzen Gymnasium.
The Muskies shot 53.6% for the game and pulled away in the final five minutes to stay undefeated at 3-0 overall. Lakeland also got a slight measure of revenge after falling in last year's NAC Tournament final to the Eagles, who dropped to 1-4 overall.
A tight game went back and forth the first 25 minutes with five ties and nine lead changes, but the Muskies took the lead for good with a 9-2 run in the second half, taking a 54-47 lead after a steal by Rylee Hernandez (Sr.-St. Paul, Minn.) led to a fast break layup by Steve Ross (So.-Milwaukee, Wis.) with 12:31 left.
The Eagles crawled back in several times after Lakeland spurts, scoring five straight before Schwarz scored seven in a row to make it 61-52 with 7:47 remaining. Edgewood again got back within three points on two occasions, but Schwarz took over late and the Muskies closed the game scoring the final nine points to pull away.
Schwarz scored 21 of his 23 points in the game's final 9:16, remaining patient against a solid Edgewood defensive effort to finish 7-of-11 from the field and 8-for-9 from the foul line. He also finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, 10 on the defensive glass.
Schwarz also passed Gary Hovey (1,656 points from 1963-67) to move into fourth place on Lakeland's all-time scoring list. He now has 1,658 career points, 118 points behind the mark of 1,776 points held by Courtland James (1981-85), who is currently third on the school's all-time list.
The Muskies held Edgewood to 36.7% shooting in the second half (11-of-30) after the Eagles shot 48.3% in the first half (14-for-29). Lakeland got the early jump in the first half, leading 20-13 after a jumper by Ross before the Eagles came back. Edgewood went on a 16-5 run late in the first half for its largest lead of the game at 35-30 and took a 37-36 lead into halftime.
Four player scored in double figures for Lakeland, with Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) and James Oshkeshequoam (Jr.-Keshena, Wis.) both tallying 12 points and Joey Burris (So.-Kiel, Wis.) adding 11 points. Ward added seven rebounds and Zach Van Engen (Fr.-Sheboygan Falls, Wis.) provided a spark off the bench at the point guard position with five points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Muskies made 30 of 56 shots from the floor and took great care of the ball, committing just six turnovers. Edgewood was led by Cashton Craig with 17 points, while Michael Janusek added 15 points. The Eagles out-rebounded Lakeland 35-27 but committed 15 turnovers as the Muskies finished with a 22-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
Lakeland hits the road in conference play Saturday to Lisle, Ill., to face Benedictine (Ill.) University at 4:15 p.m. The game will be the second game of a doubleheader which begins with the matchup between the two schools' women's teams at 2 p.m.