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Men’s basketball: Aurora University wraps up NAC South title

Marquis Lobdell (middle) AurorUniversity puts defensive pressure JamisMontgomery Benedictine as he is backed up by Kyle Pilmer (30)  Scott

Marquis Lobdell (middle) of Aurora University puts defensive pressure on Jamison Montgomery of Benedictine as he is backed up by Kyle Pilmer (30) and Scott Laskowski (3). | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:07AM

One half turned into a track meet while the other resembled a mud wrestling tournament.

When it was all over, Aurora University stalked off with an 80-70 victory over rival Benedictine Tuesday night at Thornton Gym.

“There were two games out there tonight,” AU coach James Lancaster said.

And they were as different as water and wine.

Both teams were on fire the first 20 minutes in combining for 102 points with the Spartans taking a 56-46 lead to halftime. While AU hit a neat 50 percent (21-for-42) from the field, Benedictine was even better at 51.4 (19-for-37).

Then the bottom fell out.

The Spartans (16-5, 11-1) shot a miserable 25.7 percent (9-for-35) but held the Eagles (4-15, 2-10) to a ridiculous 19.2 (5-for-26) the final 20 minutes.

Even so, the Eagles were in the game almost to the end despite not scoring a field goal over the final seven minutes.

“There are some things we need to clean up (in) how we finish the game,” Lancaster said. “I thought we put them on the free-throw line too much the second half.”

In fact, Benedictine was able to cut into a 15-point (75-60) deficit by knocking down 10 of 12 free throws in the final 6:13 while holding AU to five points, all on free throws.

Still, there were enough positives to make Lancaster and his coaching staff smile.

First, and foremost, AU came out to play against a team that has struggled all year and one the Spartans defeated by 14 points (79-65) 12 days ago in Lisle.

“I love the way we started,” Lancaster said. “You can throw the records out when you play Benedictine. There have been very few double-figure wins in the series.”

Once again Lancaster asked for and received outstanding play from his second unit. Scott Laskowski led all scorers with 16 points (7 rebounds), while Esteban Vega (5 points, 5 assists), James McKinnon (6 rebounds), Mark Adams (4 points) and Marquis Lobdell (4 points, 6 rebounds) were all instrumental in the victory and none were in the starting lineup.

The Spartans also received fine efforts from starters Jordan Hester (12 points), Marious Lobdell (12 points) and Kyle Pilmer (9 rebounds).

Yet it wasn’t easy because the Eagles played better than a 4-17 team with Jamison Montgomery (13 points) causing problems with his quickness and energy off the bench .

AU, which has sewn up the NAC’s South Division, travels to play North Division leader Lakeland College on Saturday.

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