Benedictine not done with NCAA Tournament run
Nearing the midpoint of the second half of Friday night's Division III NCAA Tournament game, Benedictine University decided it had had enough of Ohio Wesleyan.
A 13-0 run gave the Eagles the lead for good, and they advanced to Saturday's Elite Eight game with a 97-84 victory in Lisle. Benedictine (29-0) hosts Alma College at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Ohio Wesleyan took its final lead at 68-67 on Nate Alexrod's basket with 11:18 to play, but that was the Bishops' last points for more than four minutes. Reserve Shawn Soelter started Benedictine's 13-point run with a 3-pointer, then followed up with a 3 he banked off the glass from the top of the key.
"The bank was open," Soelter said, smiling broadly as he saw where the question was going. "I haven't shot it well this year, but my teammates have got confidence in me, so that helps a lot. Whenever I catch I'm ready to shoot. It went in."
"A couple of our bench mob guys hit some real big shots and then we got some energy, the crowd got pumped and when that happens we have a lot of guys that really like to step up," added Eagles center Luke Johnson (Wheaton Academy).
The Eagles got a big boost from their bench, which outscored Ohio Wesleyan's bench 31-8. Eleven points of that key 13-point run came from Eagles substitutes.
"Our bench was phenomenal," Eagles coach Keith Bunkenberg said. "The game was (near) tied and our bench came in and was unreal. They gave us a great spark. And that's what great teams do."
The game was tight until that run, with 13 lead changes and 7 ties.
"We came in at halftime and we were really upset," Johnson said. "It was a tie game at half. We just came in and said, it's all right, we're fine. We just have to keep doing things we know how to do. One of those things was rebounding. We've been a great rebounding team all year."
The Eagles controlled the boards, outrebounding the Bishops 54-26, including 25-2 on the offensive end. That helped the Eagles take 74 seconds off the clock with one possession, Tim Reamer following two offensive rebounds with a basket for an 82-71 lead and just less than six minutes to play.-
"We rebounded the ball well," said Bunkenberg, celebrating his 50th birthday. "I think that was our big savior."
The Bishops cut the lead to 6 points with 3:42 to go, but the Eagles responded with the next 6 points to pull away for good.
Johnson scored 23 points to lead Benedictine. John Dodson and Mike Blaszczyk (Naperville Central) scored 14, and Reamer added 12 off the bench. Matt Chaltin (Bartlett) scored 8 points, and Tahron Harvey (Glenbard East) had 6 points and 8 assists.
Axelrod, a 5-foot-7 guard, led Ohio Wesleyan (25-5) with 27 points. Senior Matt Jeske (Glenbard South) added 8 points.
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