For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Nov. 19, 2011
Rockford Edges Eureka in Overtime, 99-94
ROCKFORD, Ill. – Eureka College junior center Mark Lessen (Delavan, Ill./Delavan H.S.) scored a career-high 27 points to help the Red Devils rally from a nine-point second-half deficit and force overtime, but host Rockford held off Eureka’s surge and earned a 99-94 overtime victory over the Red Devils, Saturday afternoon at the Seaver Center in Rockford, Ill.
Trailing by nine with less than eight minutes to play in regulation, the Red Devils (1-1) put together a 15-6 run to close regulation and force overtime. Junior point guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) started and ended the burst, splitting a pair of free throws with 7:10 left in regulation and later driving down the left side of the lane for a layup with 5.6 seconds remaining to force an 80-80 tie. Four different Red Devils scored during the run, including five points from junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) and a thunderous one-handed dunk by Lessen.
In the overtime period, Eureka struck on its first possession on a triple by junior guard Niko Rivera (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) for an 83-80 lead. The Regents answered with five straight points on field goals from Thomas Hawkins and Sam Chones for an 85-83 lead with 3:40 left in the extra period. The two squads would be tied on two more occasions later in overtime, but the hosts would take the lead for good when Darryl Watkins split two foul shots for an 88-87 advantage with 2:45 left. The Red Devils had one last gasp trailing by three (97-94) with 20 seconds remaining, but couldn’t convert on the offensive end.
The Red Devils fell behind early by as many as four points, 9-5, but went on to lead for a majority of the first 20 minutes. A 3-pointer from junior guard Jordan Kindred (Chrisman, Ill./Chrisman H.S.) pushed Eureka to a 13-11 lead at the 16:13 mark, and Eureka wouldn’t trail again in the first half. Eureka led by as many as eight points, 21-13, on Fritsch’s 3-pointer with 14:25 remaining. The Regents (2-0) clawed back in the final moments of the half, and two free throws from Chones in the final minute set the halftime score at 41-41, the third tie of the half.
Eureka held the lead for more than six minutes after halftime until Rockford took its first advantage of the half (56-55) on Grant Olsen’s interior bucket with 13:53 left. The lead swelled to as many as nine points, 74-65, on Tory Minnifield’s layup with 7:31 remaining. Nailor ignited Eureka’s surge to close regulation on the next EC possession.
Lessen’s 27 points bested his previous career-high of 23 points set in a home win over Blackburn on Feb. 16, 2011. He also picked up eight rebounds and three blocked shots on Saturday. Fritsch added 17 points, followed by Kindred with 15 and Nailor with 10. Kindred also dished out nine assists to match a career-high. He turned the ball over only one time in a game-high 41 minutes.
Six Regents scored in double-figures, including a team-high 17 points for Paul Hall. Minnifield gathered a game-high 11 boards.
The Red Devils will play the middle game of their three-game road swing on Wednesday at Division I Eastern Illinois. Tip-off in Charleston, Ill. is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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