DEFIANCE – The 3-pointers started to fall for the Heidelberg University men's basketball team early in the game and never stopped. It was a barrage from behind the arc throughout as the Student Princes knocked off Lakeland (Wisc.) 88-76 in the opening round of the Purple and Gold Tournament in Defiance, Ohio. The Berg led by as much as 21 points in the second half as they rode their hot shooting hand to the victory. With the win, the Student Princes advance to the championship game on Tuesday.
Freshman Kiere' Bennie was unstoppable in the contest, scoring a game-high 25 points. He shot 5-of-8 on 3-pointers while recording four steals and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.
Marcquice Taylor scored 14 points while dishing out 11 assists to record the first double-double of his career.
DeAvery Collins had a solid day coming off of the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.
Heidelberg (4-5) shot 15-of-35 (42.9%) from 3-point range, helping them build a big 2nd half lead while holding on late.
Lakeland (9-2) was forced into 25 turnovers in the game, which is nine more than they had in any of their 10 previous games.
A layup by Taylor gave Heidelberg an early 6-3 lead at the 18:05 mark, forcing Lakeland to call a timeout.
The Muskies went on an 8-0 run to take a 16-9 lead with 12:45 to play in the half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ben Jones and Taylor helped the Student Princes regain the lead with 9:22 to play before halftime.
A trey by Bennie at the halftime buzzer gave Heidelberg a 41-36 lead entering the break.
A 12-0 run by the Berg early in the second half broke open the close game as Bennie and Jones each knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, giving the Student Princes a 16-point lead with 16:23 remaining.
Bennie went on an 8-0 run by himself with a 3-pointer and a pair of layups to give Heidelberg a 21-point lead with 11:56 to play, their largest lead of the game.
The Muskies cut the lead down to eight with under two minutes to play, but another trey by Bennie with 47 seconds to play ended the run, lifting the Student Princes to the win.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
The double-double by Taylor was the first by a Heidelberg player this season.
The 25-point performance by Bennie was the third game of the season he has scored 20 or more points.
The loss for Lakeland was just their second of the season, breaking a four-game winning streak for the Muskies.
Heidelberg advanced to the championship game of the Purple and Gold tournament with the win and will face the winner of Defiance and Illinois Tech on Tuesday, December 30. That contest is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. in Defiance.