Muskie comeback falls short in loss to Falcons

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MEQUON, Wis. - Mark Pace scored 13 of his 16 points late in the game for Concordia University Wisconsin, which overcame a Lakeland College comeback to defeat the Muskies 79-69 Wednesday night in a Northern Athletics Conference game.

Lakeland delivered its poorest shooting performance of the season, hitting just 24 of 69 shots from the field (34.8%). The Muskies also were out-rebounded 47-38 in dropping to 16-4 overall and 9-2 in the NAC North Division. Concordia is now one game behind Lakeland in the division standings after improving to 8-3 in conference (11-7 overall).

The Muskies fell behind 8-0 at the start and didn't score their first field goal until nearly 5 1/2 minutes into the game. Lakeland slowly clawed its way back, though, and finally took its first lead of the game when Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) converted a layup to make it 46-45 with 12:15 to play.

The Muskies would lead by as many as three points and had gone back ahead when Jake Schwarz (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) hit two free throws for a 58-56 lead with 6:02 to play. Lakeland would go cold from the field again, though, missing its next five shots, and Pace took over for Concordia.

He scored the go-ahead layup to give the Falcons a 60-58 lead with 5:09 to play, hit two free throws to extend the lead to four, and then nailed a three-pointer to make it 66-59 with 3:19 left. Lakeland got back within four when Kurt Jansen (So.-Wrightstown, Wis.) made a three with 2:22 left to make it 68-64, but Pace answered again with a dagger for a seven-point lead, and the Muskies never got closer the rest of the way.

Lakeland trailed 32-27 at halftime, surviving a miserable start to get within three points with the final possession before Ward's shot was rejected and Steven Brodie banked in a runner just before the buzzer for Concordia. Jansen had 10 points to keep the Muskies close in the first half despite missing going 0-for-10 from three-point range.

Schwarz led Lakeland with 24 points and 13 rebounds, making 8 of 17 shots and 7-of-7 from the foul line. Rylee Hernandez (Sr.-St. Paul, Minn.) added nine points off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers in the second half as the Muskies rallied. Lakeland shot just 5-of-26 from three-point range for the game (19.2%).

Steve Zielinski had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Concordia, which shot 43.9% (29-of-66), including 16-of-31 in the second half (51.6%).

The Muskies are on the road again Saturday to face Wisconsin Lutheran College at 4:15 p.m.