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LISLE, Ill. - Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) erupted for 32 points and the Lakeland College men's basketball team remained undefeated with a 87-80 win over Benedictine (Ill.) University Saturday afternoon.
Ward reached his season high by halftime with 21 points in the first 20 minutes, and the Muskies held off a three-point barrage by Benedictine to improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Northern Athletics Conference. Lakeland also dealt the Eagles their first conference loss of the season, dropping Benedictine to 1-1 in the NAC and 2-4 overall.
Ward made 15 of 22 shots from the field, including 10 of 14 in the first half as Lakeland took a 42-35 halftime lead. The Muskies and Eagles traded the lead five times in the first 10 minutes of the game before Lakeland took the lead for good on a three-point play by Jake Schwarz (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) that made it 28-25 with 8:19 left in the half.
Benedictine made a move early in the second half, getting within one point several times. The Muskies went on a 12-0 spurt midway through the half, though, with Schwarz hitting a three-pointer to make it 67-53 with 8:44 left in the game.
Lakeland eventually led by 16 points on three occasions, the last time when Zach Van Engen (Fr.-Sheboygan Falls, Wis.) found Joey Burris (So.-Kiel, Wis.) for a fast break layup for an 83-67 lead with 4:14 left. The Eagles got as close as 83-77 after a three-pointer by Shawn Soelter with 55 seconds left, but Schwarz and Steve Ross (So.-Milwaukee, Wis.) both hit a pair of free throws to close it out.
The Muskies shot well from the field again, hitting 36 of 71 field goals (50.7%). Schwarz backed up Ward with 21 points, including four three-pointers, as well as eight rebounds, and Burris added 14 points.
Benedictine shot 27 of 59 from the field (45.8%) but hit 16 three-pointers in the contest. Michael Woolf was 7-of-9 from beyond the arc and finished with 29 points as well as a game-high 10 rebounds. Drake Danford added 17 points off the bench, including four three-pointers.
Lakeland returns home for its next game against Concordia University Wisconsin Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Woltzen Gymnasium.