MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Lutheran College men's basketball team saw a 16-point halftime lead disappear, but battled back to win its home opener 55-49 over Beloit in non-conference action Thursday night at the Recreation Complex. Jake Jarnigo (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the first half to lead WLC (2-1).
Jarnigo was 7-for-10 from the field in the and 4-for-4 from three point range in the first half - including a buzzer-beating three to end the half - to push the Warriors to a 31-15 halftime lead. WLC opened the game on a 19-3 run and the lead swelled to 17 at 26-9 with 4:23 left in the half. WLC knocked down 43 percent (13-for-30) of its shots in the half and was 62.5 percent (5-for-8) from downtown. Beloit was held to 25 percent (7-for-28) from the field and was 0-for-5 from long distance.
The Buccaneers (1-1) stormed out of the locker room after halftime with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 31-23 with 16:49 left. Beloit pushed the overall run to 19-4 as it took its first and only lead at 37-35 with 10:29 to play on a jumper by Tyler Butke.
The lead would be short-lived for the Bucs, as Taylor Chladek (West Allis, Wis./Nathan Hale) hit a pair of free throws 20 seconds later to tie it. After Beloit tied the game again at 40-40, Chladek hit a go-ahead three with 4:22 to go that gave the Warriors the lead for good.
Beloit kept it a one-possession game until Jarnigo's off-balance jumper with 1:12 left made it 50-46. Beloit cut the deficit back to two with 24 seconds left, but Kyle Stelse (Jefferson, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) iced the game with a pair of free throws with eight seconds remaining.
Jarnigo finished the game 10-for-15 from the field. Jim Marose (Waukesha, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) was the second-leading scorer with eight points and added seven rebounds. Brett Lubbe (Las Vegas, Nev./Faith Lutheran) pulled down a team-high eight boards. The Warriors shot 40 percent for the game while holding the Bucs to 34.5 percent.
Tyler Butke scored 18 second-half points to lead the Bucs with 23 points and nine rebounds. Steve McAfee scored 12 and Marcus Ford dished out a game-high three assists.
Wisconsin Lutheran opens conference play Saturday night at 7 p.m. against NACC rival Concordia Wisconsin (0-2) at the Recreation Complex. Live video, audio, and stats will be available on wlcsports.com.