January 12, 2017- The Cougar men went back on the road Thursday night to take on nationally ranked Benedictine University. The Cougars knew they had a tough challenge on their hands as the Eagles are coming off a year where they went to the NCAA championship and finish the year with two losses. This year, the Eagles are 10-3 overall, but 8-0 in conference and sit atop the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. The Cougars came out scorching hot in the first half shooting 50 percent from the floor but still trailed at the half. Benedictine then flexed their muscles and pulled away in the second half.
The game was off to a fast start as both teams were trading baskets without getting many stops. Benedictine went on the games first run to force an early timeout from the Cougars. Contributing to the Eagles run were the multiple Cougars consecutive turnovers that the Eagles were able to take advantage of. In a four minute stretch, the Cougars could not buy a bucket and the Eagles could not miss from the field. Through the first ten minutes of the half, Benedictine was 6-10 from three and shooting a blistering 68% from the field to jump out to a 33-16 lead. Mitch Pelissier and Mike Walmer were keeping the Cougars within striking distance though. The Cougars pressure defense started to show some life that forced Benedictine turnovers leading to easy baskets in transition to cut the Eagle lead to ten. Benedictine didn't let the Cougars get closer as they stiffened up on defense and continued to stay hot from the field. CUC had no answer for Benedictine's leading scorers Tahron Harvey and Adam Reynolds as they had a combined 33 points in the first half as the Eagles took a 58-41 lead heading into halftime.
Early in the second half, Cougars came out hot as they rattled off a quick 7-0 run to cut the Benedictine lead to 58-48. Like the first half, the Eagles responded with a quick 6-0 run themselves with two threes as they stayed hot from the floor. The teams continued to trade baskets led by Reynolds for the Eagles and Louis Fernando for the Cougars. CUC was unable to get stops as Benedictine's leading scorer Harvey started taking over, stretching the Eagles lead to 79-62. Middle part of the second half featured both teams even, with Benedictine dominating the boards over the Cougars to keep the Eagles lead at 18 with six minutes to play. The Eagles were able to control the rest of the game to win by the final score of 109-84.
The Cougars were led by Pelissier who had a game high 23 points (10-16), 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, followed by Walmer with 14 points (5-13) and 3 rebounds. CUC shot 46 percent from from the field. Benedictine showed why they are #14 in the country shooting 58 percent from the floor as a team, with five players finishing in double figures scoring.
The Cougars (3-10, 2-8 NACC) return to action Saturday afternoon as they take on as they head up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to take on MSOE in a NACC matchup. Tip off is set for 4:15pm.