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FOND DU LAC - Jake Schwarz (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) set the Northern Athletics Conference career scoring mark and the Lakeland College men's basketball team fought off a determined Marian University team for an 88-81 win Saturday afternoon at Marian's Sadoff Gymnasium.
The Muskies led by double digits much of the first half and again early in the second half, but couldn't put the Sabres away until going on a 10-3 run in the final three minutes. Lakeland moved to 6-0 overall, the school's best start since 1982-83, and also improved to 4-0 in the NAC.
Just three days removed from receiving a laceration above his right eye that required stitches and knocked him out of the game against Concordia University Wisconsin, Schwarz finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds to post game highs in both categories. He made two free throws with 6:34 left in the game, with the second giving him 24 points and breaking the NAC career scoring record of 1,719 points held by Ben Wisniewski (2008-12).
The free throws gave the Muskies a 68-66 lead, and Lakeland would never trail again, though it would hardly be easy. Marian (3-5 overall, 1-3 NAC) hung around all afternoon and would continue to, tying the score twice more, the last time at 74-74 after Mark Keller made a fast break layup with 2:57 to play.
Lakeland responded with a three-pointer by Joey Burris (So.-Kiel, Wis.) on its next possession, and Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) scored on a drive to the basket the next time down for a 79-74 lead. Marian got back within two after a three-pointer by Alex Stecker, but Ward delivered a dagger the next time down with a three-pointer from the top of the circle to make it 82-77 with 1:22 left. The Sabres missed a layup next time down, and the Muskies hit six free throws in the final minute to ice the game.
Lakeland led almost the entire first half despite Ward playing just two minutes due to foul trouble. The Muskies went ahead by as 14 points, the biggest lead coming when Burris hit a three to make it 27-13 with 7:26 left in the half. Marian clawed back, though, holding Lakeland to four points in the final five minutes of the half and getting a three-pointer by Cody Veleke at the buzzer to cap an 11-2 run and leave the Muskies with just a 35-33 lead at the break.
Schwarz finished shooting 8-of-16 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line, and cleaned the glass with 14 of his 17 rebounds on the defensive end. Ward added 20 points, 18 in the second half, hitting 6 of 10 shots from the field as well as all six free throws. Burris added 14 points, including four three-point baskets.
The Muskies shot 48.4% from the field (30-of-62), including 9-of-17 from the three-point line. Lakeland also out-rebounded Marian 42-35.
Drew Binversie scored 19 points and Valeke added 18 for the Sabres, who shot 40.3% (25-of-62) and also hit nine three-pointers. Stecker added 16 points.
According to available school records, the only time Lakeland has started 7-0 was in 1971-72. The Muskies will attempt to tie the school mark for consecutive wins to start a season on Friday when they host Silver Lake College at 7 p.m. at Woltzen Gymnasium.