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LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Withstanding a game-high 27 points from Andrew Batiuk, Wisconsin Lutheran University held on for a 78-73 nonconference win over Linfield Sunday afternoon at South Point Arena.
The matchup concluded the 2012 D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas, with Linfield falling to 2-9 on the season with the loss. Tim Demuth led the way with 22 points, and Nate Bauer and Kyle Stelse contributed 19 and 13 for the Warriors, respectively.
Batiuk topped the ‘Cats with eight rebounds, and Brandon Harris contributed 10 points.
Both teams started off cold offensively, and a three from Tim Logan five minutes into the game put the ‘Cats up 5-4. A three from Jacob Thorne put the lead back into the hands of Wisconsin Lutheran, though the Warriors failed to build a significant lead early on.
Four ties and five lead changes within the first 12 minutes of play made for a back-and-forth flow, as the Warriors held a 20-18 advantage with eight minutes to play. Another three from Thorne gave the Warriors their biggest lead of the game at 23-18.
Cory Hendryx provided hustle off the bench for the ‘Cats. A long-range bucket from the junior guard with just over five minutes left in the first made the score 25-22 in favor of the Warriors.
WLU (5-8) began to pull away as time wound down in the first, extending its lead to 32-24 with three minutes to play in the half.
Harris knocked down a three that cut the deficit to 33-29 with less than two minutes to play. The Warriors finished off the first half strong, however, and took a 39-29 lead into the break. Batiuk led the ‘Cats in points (eight) and rebounds (three) in the first, with Harris kicking in five points on 3-of-6 from the floor.
The teams stalled coming out of the break, as the Warriors maintained their 10-point lead through the middle part of the second. A three from Hendryx kicked off a 7-0 run that cut the Warriors’ lead to 52-47 with just over eight minutes remaining.
DeMuth knocked down a three coming out of a timeout, which nudged the Warriors back to an eight-point lead, 55-47. WLU maintained its advantage into the closing minutes, and refused to let Linfield put together an offensive run.
With just two minutes remaining, Tim Pang and Batiuk hit back-to-back 3-point baskets that brought the score to 70-64. The Warriors knocked down big free throws with under a minute left to hold on for the victory.
NEXT UP: The ‘Cats return home Friday, Jan. 4 for a pair of NWC contests at Ted Wilson Gymnasium. Linfield tips off with George Fox at 8 p.m. on Friday night, and then hosts Pacific Lutheran at the same time the following evening.