Aurora loses heart breaker to Benedictine at the buzzer
The Aurora University Spartan men's basketball team dropped a heart breaking game at the hands of the Eagles from Benedictine University Tuesday night in Thornton Gymnasium, 65-64. As time expired, a tip-in from BU's David Bernard captured the victory for the visitors.
Aurora started off the game by scoring a quick four points only to be answered by a 12-2 run by Benedictine, giving the visitors a 12-6 lead with 14:55 on the game clock.
After the Spartans stopped the run with a three pointer by junior guard Esteban Vega, the Eagles countered with two three pointers of their own, both by Eagle Nate Green. This extended BU's lead to nine points by a score of 18-9 with 12:37 left in the opening half.
The Spartans would continue to struggle on the offensive end of the floor as they saw the Eagles' lead increase to 11 points over the next five minutes, 25-17.
AU junior guard Mike Bumber started an 11-2 run with a three point field goal and Kyle Pilmer, a freshman center for Aurora, finished this run over three minutes later with a slam dunk that brought the home crowd into the game. The 11-2 run helped Aurora climb within two points of the lead, 27-25.
The Eagles would go on to outscore the Spartans for the remainder of the half but not by much. Benedictine scored nine in the final four minutes while Aurora scored eight. The score at the half was 36-33 in favor of the visiting Eagles.
Green for BU led all scorers with 12 first-half points while AU had nine of 12 players score with Contino Hunter leading the way with eight.
The Spartans got off to an early second half lead after scoring the first five points of the half. Sophomore forward Scott Laskowski converted a layup which was followed by a three pointer from junior guard Joel Iventosch.
Benedictine's senior forward Raphael Oglesby scored on a layup to tie the game up at 38-38. This was one of the seven times over the next 12 minutes of play that the game was tied up. After this stretch, the score was 50-50 with 7:28 to play in the second half.
After the Eagles broke the tie with a jumper, Iventosch drained back to back threes to put his team up 56-52 with 5:37 left.
AU held the lead as the teams traded baskets until Benedictine's senior guard Nate Green made a layup with 1:26 left to give his team a 62-61 lead. Green furthered his team's lead by going one for two from the free throw line with 23 seconds remaining in the game.
Following a BU timeout, AU's Vega tied the game up with 10 second left and was sent to the free-throw line to complete the three point play. He made the free throw which put Aurora back on top 64-63.
The Eagles pushed the ball up court immediately with Green missing the first shot of the frenzied sequence. Eagle junior forward Mark Pace corralled the rebound with two seconds left and he missed his jumper but a tip-in as the final horn sounded by BU senior forward David Bernard scored to win the game for his team, 65-64.
Final stat leaders in the game included BU's Green leading all scorers with 21 points, while the Spartan trio of Iventosch (13 points), Laskowski (12 points) and Vega (10 points) led the way for AU.
Aurora falls to 12-12 after the loss and will take on Marian University on the road for the Northern Athletics Conference North-South Challenge game on Saturday, February 18th. Game time is to be determined. The Spartans will make the NAC tournament and will be either the seven or eight seed in the tournament depending on the outcome of the challenge game.