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The Lakeland College men's basketball team landed a decisive Northern Athletics Conference victory over Maranatha Baptist Bible College, 87-55, in what is likely to be its last home contest of the season in the Woltzen Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Although the Muskies' (13-10, 9-7 NAC) hopes of hosting a NAC tournament game are slim, the squad can certainly be proud of the fact that it went out on top on offense on its home court, as it shot a collective 53 percent from the floor for the game.
"We got off to a good start," said Lakeland head coach Kyle Brumett. "We only turned it over once in the first half, and I don't think we've had a half like that all year. We also made 12 '3's' in the game and out-rebounded them by 17. When you have 14 offensive rebounds, you're going to get some pretty good opportunities."
Senior forward Danny Ehnert was a key component to the Muskies' dominance on the glass, as he grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, three on the offensive end.
Lakeland also enjoyed a very balanced offensive effort, as four Muskies surpassed the double-digit mark, led by senior guard Shane Grube with 14 points. Junior Peter Worth knocked down six of his nine attempts from the floor for 13 points followed by senior guards Kris Saiberlich and Aaron Regal with 11 points apiece.
Another key to the game was the fact that the Muskies were able to silence the Crusaders' main offensive powers, Mike Knepp and Josh Burch. Both average around 20 points per game, but Knepp was held to 13 points shooting 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, while Burch had just six points, all of which were free throws.
"We were a lot better defensively than we have been in past games," Brumett said. "We talked a lot about team defense before the game and how it was going to take all five guys on the floor paying attention to those two guys (Knepp and Burch) to stop them."
Brumett was also pleased with the way his team closed out the game, as the Muskies held their substantial lead to the buzzer, and nearly everyone came off the bench with an offensive contribution.
"We have had opportunities to put some teams away before and we haven't done it, but today we did," Brumett said. "13 guys played, and we kept extending the lead the whole game. I thought everyone did a really good job coming in off the bench, especially the freshmen that played. I thought Jay Freerking and Sam Schroeder played very well, and Anthony Cobb had one of his better games."
The Muskies will finish out the remainder of their NAC schedule on the road, beginning with Concordia University Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 16.
"It's a huge game," said Brumett, whose team is battling to improve its position in the conference standings. "Too often this year we've had games where we've beaten the team the first time and not taken care of them the second time. When you're in the position we're in they're all huge games, but having to go on the road with our last two this is one we really need to get. We've been playing well, so we're just going to go down there and try to continue it."
Tip-off time with Concordia Chicago is set for 4:15 p.m. in River Forest, Ill.