MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Lutheran College men's basketball team stormed back from an 11-point second-half deficit to force overtime, but a game-winning jumper by Aurora's Nick Kladas with 18 seconds remaining in the extra period sent the Warriors to a 91-90 loss Saturday afternoon at the Recreation Complex. It was the Warriors' (4-9, 2-7 NACC) sixth conference loss of the season by four or fewer points.
The lead changed hands six times in overtime, with the Warriors grabbing a 90-89 lead on Kyle Stelse's (Jefferson, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) jump shot with 1:45 remaining. After WLC came up empty on its next two possessions, Aurora (10-5, 7-3 NACC) had one more chance, and Kladas put the Spartans in front for the final time. The Warriors turned the ball over on their final possession to end the game.
Kladas also hit the shot that forced overtime, a jumper that bounced around the rim and fell in with four seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 85. The Warriors had battled back from a 69-58 deficit with 10:16 remaining in the second half. WLC ripped off a 12-0 run, capped by Jake Jarnigo's (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) layup to take its first lead at 70-69 with 6:59 to play. The game continued to change hands in the closing minutes of a game that featured 15 lead changes and eight ties. Stelse hit a go-ahead jumper with 26 seconds left to give the Warriors an 85-83 lead before Kladas' game-tying jumper sent the game to overtime.
Aurora used hot shooting in the first half to surge to a 12-point lead on Kalmon Stokes' three-pointer with 6:23 remaining. The Spartans shot 50 percent (14-for-28) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-for-13) from three-point range in the opening stanza and were led by Stokes' 14 points. The Warriors shot 35.5 percent (11-for-31) in the first half and did not lead at any point as Aurora took a 42-34 lead into halftime.
Stelse led the Warriors with a career-high 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting while adding eight rebounds. Jarnigo poured in 17 points, including 15 in the second half and overtime. Jim Marose (Waukesha, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) scored 11, DJ Escamilla (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) was 4-for-4 from the field with 10 points, and Brett Lubbe (Las Vegas, Nev./Faith Lutheran) grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
Stokes led five Spartans in double figures with 22 points and Kladas, Scott Laskowski, and CJ Schutt scored 15 apiece. Gavin Walker dished out a game-high 11 assists.
Aurora out-shot WLC 52-47 percent while the Warriors controlled the boards, 43-33. WLC held a 24-19 edge in points off turnovers and a 20-16 advantage in second chance points.
Wisconsin Lutheran returns to action Tuesday when it hosts MSOE (10-3, 5-3 NACC) at 7 p.m. Live audio, stats, and video will be available on wlcsports.com.