WLC's Comeback Bid Falls Short On Final Possession

Photo Credit: Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
Photo Credit: Larry Radloff, d3photography.com

MILWAUKEE - Facing a 17-point deficit with 11:44 remaining in the game, the Wisconsin Lutheran College men's basketball team rallied to within a point before Kyle Stelse's (Jefferson, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) game-winning shot attempt missed as time expired in a 77-76 loss to Edgewood Tuesday night at the Recreation Complex. Eight of the Warriors' (8-14, 6-12 NACC) 12 NACC losses this season have been by four points or less. It was the second time this season that Edgewood (11-11, 9-8 NACC) hung on to defeat WLC after a missed last-second shot. 

The Warriors trailed 58-41 after Joe Klocek hit a three-pointer with 11:44 to play to match the Eagles' largest lead of the game. WLC used a 13-2 run to climb to within six, and inched to within one at 75-74 following a jumper by Stelse with 38 seconds remaining. After Klocek hit a pair of free throws, Stelse hit a deep jumper from the corner that initially appeared to be a game-tying three, but was ruled a two-point basket to cut Edgewood's lead to 77-76 with 12 seconds remaining. Edgewood missed the front end of the ensuing one-and-one, and WLC raced down the court, where Stelse's mid-range jumper was just off the mark as the final horn sounded.

WLC used 54.5 percent (18-of-33) shooting to pull back into the game in the second half, including 3-of-6 from long distance. The Warriors also out-rebounded the Eagles 16-11 in the closing period.

Edgewood scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed. The Warriors fell behind 15-6 with 12:42 left in the first half, but used an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to 18-17 with 8:27 to play. Ruben Ortiz (Waukesha, Wis./North) made a layup with two seconds left in the half to trim the Eagles' lead to 38-31 at the break. Edgewood shot 45.5 percent (15-of-33) in the first half and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.

DJ Escamilla (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) scored a game- and career-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Jake Jarnigo (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) added 13 and Stelse chipped in with 10. Brett Lubbe (Las Vegas, Nev./Faith Lutheran) and Jim Marose (Waukesha, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) tied for a team-high with seven rebounds.

Dylan Rusch paced Edgewood with 17 points and Tal Diekvoss poured in 15 and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Justin Williams pitched in 10 points.

The Eagles used hot shooting throughout the game, hitting on 52.5 percent of their field goal attempts and drilling 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from downtown. WLC committed a season-low three turnovers and held an 11-0 advantage in points off turnovers. The Warriors also out-scored the Eagles 34-26 in the paint. 

Wisconsin Lutheran hosts its final home game of the regular season Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Maranatha (7-12) on Senior Night. Live audio, stats, and video will be available for the game at wlcsports.com.