Demuth delivers Wisconsin Lutheran to Winterfest win
MILWAUKEE – Junior guard Tim Demuth (Franksville, Wis./Racine Lutheran) scored a career-high 29 points and Russell Strutz (Sturtevant, Wis./Shoreland Lutheran) took a big charge with three seconds remaining in leading the Wisconsin Lutheran College men's basketball team to an 84-81 win over Aurora Saturday afternoon at the Recreation Complex.
The Spartans and Warriors played very evenly during the first 9:36 of play as the two teams played to five ties and three lead changes. Following the fifth tie at 12-12 with 10:24 remaining in the half, WLC went on a 14-4 run sparked by two Demuth three-pointers and another from Nate Bauer (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) to go in front 26-12 with 7:36 remaining in the first half.
Aurora quickly cut into that lead, scoring 15 of the next 17 points to bring the score to 28-27 with 4:36 left in the half. Demuth then answered with a pair of three's and hit another in a 13-0 Warriors run that pushed the lead to 41-27 with 1:10 left before halftime. The Spartans scored the final three points of the half to bring the score to 41-30.
Demuth was on fire in the first half as he connected on six of his nine first-half shots, including 5-for-6 from three-point range in leading WLC with 17 first-half points. Strutz added eight points while Julion Griffin (Milwaukee, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) pulled down a first-half best seven rebounds. Scott Laskowski led the visiting Spartans with eight points.
As hot as he was in the first half, Demuth came out even hotter in the second as he made his first three shots, including two three-pointers to net the first nine points after the break. After his nine points, WLC led 50-38 with 17:23 remaining in the contest.
The Wisconsin Lutheran lead hovered around that range until Aurora cut the margin to five at 58-53 with 12:39 left in the contest. Wisconsin Lutheran responded with a 7-0 run capped off by another Demuth three-pointer to take a 67-53 lead with 10:18 to play.
The Warriors lead was 71-59 with 8:58 on the clock before Aurora went on a surge of its own, scoring 12 of the next 14 points to cut the margin to 73-71 with 5:41 remaining. The Warriors had another answer by rattling off the next seven points including a Bauer three-pointer to go up 80-71 with 3:53 on the clock.
It was the Spartans turn to make another run as they cut the deficit to 82-79 with 1:25 remaining after Jordan Hester buried a three-point basket. Hester then struck again with 42 seconds remaining on a layup to make the score 82-81.
Wisconsin Lutheran turned the ball over on its next possession and gave the ball back to Aurora with 23 seconds remaining in the game. Aurora missed a three-point shot, but got the offensive rebound and called a timeout with seven seconds left.
That is when the Warriors defense stepped up as Strutz took a charge to give Wisconsin Lutheran possession with 3.8 seconds remaining. Cody Jackson (Fond du Lac, Wis./Winnebago Lutheran) then knocked down a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds on the clock and the Spartans desperation attempt from full-court fell short as WLC pulled out the 84-81 win.
Demuth led all scorers as he poured in a career-high 29 points, making 10-of-16 shots and 8-of-10 from three-point range. Alex Merbach (Kaukauna, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) and Strutz added 12 points each, while Griffin grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds. Laskowski had 23 to lead Aurora (9-10, 5-6 NAC) while Hester chipped in with 19.
Aurora out-shot the Warriors as it made 54.4 percent (31-for-57) of its shots, compared to 45.9 percent (28-for-61) for the home team. The Warriors, however, connected on 10-for-19 from deep. Another big factor in the win was WLC forcing 20 turnovers and scoring 32 points. AU got just 20 points off 18 Wisconsin Lutheran turnovers.
The Warriors also out-shot AU from the free throw line as they connected on 81.8 percent (18-for-22), compared to the visitors 47.8 percent (11-for-23).
Wisconsin Lutheran (4-15, 3-8 NAC) will be back in action Tuesday night when it hosts Maranatha (2-12, 0-9 NAC) at the Recreation Complex. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Fans unable to attend the game can follow the action live via audio, stats and video and wlcsports.com.