Muskies gear up for NAC Tournament
Athletics - posted on 2/22/2011
The Lakeland College men's basketball team begins Northern Athletics Conference Tournament play Wednesday as the Muskies begin playing for the NAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The fifth-seeded Muskies travel to fourth-seeded Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Todd Wehr Edgedome.
Lakeland and Edgewood split in the regular season with each winning its respective home game. The Muskies shot 55 percent from the field and junior Josh Regal scored 28 points en route to a 92-83 Lakeland win on Feb. 3. The Eagles' Kent Faurote and Ben Wisniewski combined for 50 points to lead Edgewood. The Eagles beat Lakeland, 63-61, on Dec. 8 in Madison when Regal's half-court shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
The winner of Wednesday's quarterfinal will take on the winner of No. 8 Wisconsin Lutheran College versus No. 1 Concordia, Wis., on Friday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed.
The Muskies enter the postseason having won three of their last four games, including a 71-66 win at Aurora University on Feb. 19 in the NAC Challenge Game. Lakeland finished the regular season with a 16-9 record, including an 11-6 mark in the NAC, good for third place in the North Division.
Lakeland enters its second consecutive NAC Tournament leading the conference in 3-point field goals made (211), 3-point percentage (.389) and assist to turnover ratio (1.1). Lakeland ranks second in steals (229) and turnover margin (+3.88).
The Muskies will look to junior guards Regal and Jack Ridgway, as well as freshman forward Justin Ward, to lead the scoring punch. Regal averages 12.8 points per game and leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) and ranks second in assists (140), while Ridgway averages 10.5 points per game. On the interior, Lakeland will look to Ward who is averaging 9.6 points per game and is second in the league in blocks (29).
Lakeland head coach Aaron Aanonsen hopes the momentum from Saturday's win at Aurora will carry into the tournament.
"We were able to go on the road against a good Aurora team and find a way to win," said Lakeland head coach Aaron Aanonsen. "We didn't shoot exceptionally well, but we defended well and rebounded the basketball better than we have been."
Edgewood (16-9, 12-4 NAC) enters the tournament with the overall fourth seed, but finished one spot ahead of Lakeland in the North Division. The Eagles have won three of their last five games, suffering a 64-53 setback to the Milwaukee School of Engineering on Feb. 19 in the NAC Challenge game.
The Eagles lead the NAC in field goal percentage (.509), rebounding defense (27.7) and assists (356). They rank second in 3-point field goal percentage (.387), rebounding margin (+4.9) and scoring defense.
Four players are averaging at least 11 points per game for Edgewood, including Ben Wisniewski, who is No. 6 in the league for scoring (16.2).
"We need to defend Edgewood well," said Aanonsen. "They have a couple of great players who take 60 percent of their team shots. We need to contain them to be successful tomorrow night. We also need to be aggressive and force them into turnovers as well as pushing the game's tempo."
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