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ROCKFORD, Ill.-The Lakeland College men's basketball team erased a 21-point deficit in the second half to earn a 76-67 victory over Rockford College in Northern Athletics Conference action Saturday evening.
Sophomore Justin Ward (Wisconsin Dells) led the 9-3 Muskies to their third-straight win after he scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting to take down the NAC South Division leaders.
Head coach Aaron Aanonsen was happy with the team's outcome, but praised Rockford's intensity.
"Rockford came out with a lot of energy and was able to hit a lot of long shots," said Aanonsen. "As a result, we got outside of our game and committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers. At halftime we refocused the guys and simplified the game to get the result we wanted."
Lakeland, who ranks ninth in the nation in scoring among Division III teams, trailed the entire first half of play on poor shooting and found itself down 21 points with 2:50 left in the half. Senior Josh Regal (Suring) and junior Jake Schwarz (Sheboygan) helped cut the lead to 15 on two 3-point plays, but the team trailed 39-24 heading into the locker room.
The Muskies used a 30-16 run in the second half to take a one-point, 57-56 lead at the 7:28 mark when Regal hit a 3-pointer. Lakeland extended its margin to 10 to hold on for the key league win.
Schwarz ended the night with another double-double, including 21 points and 10 rebounds. Regal finished with 14 points, six assists and three steals.
Lakeland scored 54 points off turnovers and points in the paint, but got out rebounded, 44-34. For the game, the team shot 45.6 percent from the field and held the Regents to 38.2 percent shooting.
Taylor Dixon led Rockford with 18 points.
The Muskies return to NAC action on Jan. 11 as they head to rival Marian University to take on the Sabres. Tip is 7 p.m. in Fond du Lac, Wis.