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Brandon Hagenow (Fr.-Sussex, Wis.) made two free throws with seven seconds left in the game and the Lakeland College men's basketball team defeated Concordia University Wisconsin 69-68 in a Northern Athletics Conference Tournament semifinal game Tuesday night at Woltzen Gymnasium.
The top-seeded Muskies are now one win away from a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament and will host No. 2 seed Aurora (Ill.) University Saturday at 2 p.m. in the tournament championship game. Aurora held off third seed Dominican (Ill.) University 71-67 in the other semifinal game, setting up a clash between division champions on Saturday.
Lakeland (22-5 overall) survived a wild final minute marked by a double foul, critical turnovers by Concordia, and clutch free throws by both teams. The Muskies also had to stage a mini-rally late just to get in position in the final minutes.
Lakeland led the entire game until Boubacar Camara rolled in a layup with 3:55 to play to give the Falcons (18-9 overall) their first lead of the game at 59-58. Concordia actually ppushed the lead to four when Mark Pace hit a floater with 1:59 left to make it 66-62, putting the Muskies in serious danger.
The Muskies rallied, though, and retook the lead at 67-66 after Kurt Jansen (So.-Wrightstown, Wis.) converted a three-point play with 50 seconds left. Concordia then turned the ball over twice in a span of 19 seconds, the second coming with 20 seconds left in the game.
Lakeland inbounded the ball after a timeout, and Jake Schwarz (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) was fouled with 16.9 seconds left in the game. On the play, though, Schwarz was also called for a flagrant foul for swinging elbows, resulting in free throws for both teams plus the ball going back to Concordia. Schwarz missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Steven Brodie stepped up and hit two free throws to give the Falcons a 68-67 lead.
However, Concordia turned the ball over shortly after getting it inbounds, setting the Muskies up for a final chance. Lakeland went the length of the floor, and Hagenow was fouled going to the basket with seven seconds left.
The freshman calmly made both free throws, the second coming after a Concordia timeout. The Falcons had one final chance, but the Muskies forced Bryan Donaldson into an off-balance jumper at the buzzer that was well off, leading to a court-storming by Lakeland students immediately after the ball fell harmlessly away after the buzzer.
The Muskies survived after leading much of the night on the strength of a hot shooting start but going cold in the second half. Lakeland led the entire first half and scorched the nets early, making 11 of its first 16 shots. The Muskies couldn't put away the Falcons, though, leading 36-33 despite shooting 53.3% at the break.
The Muskies continued to set the pace in the second half, building a 46-36 lead with 17:22 left after two free throws by Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.). Lakeland soon went cold, though, with just one field goal in a stretch of nearly ten minutes.
Ward finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Schwarz added 16 points and 10 boards and Hagenow also pitched in with 10 points. The Muskies shot just 34.3% in the second half (12-of-35) and finished at 43.1% for the game (28-of-65).
Brian Jackson led Concordia with 18 points and nine rebounds, including three three-pointers in the second half to keep the Falcons in the game. Concordia shot 38.5% (25-of-65) from the field but out-rebounded Lakeland 43-40.