MILWAUKEE – Junior Austin Stueck scored 21 points and the MSOE men's basketball team shot 55.3 percent on the night in taking down first-place Aurora 80-76 Wednesday evening at the Kern Center.
The Raiders (7-6, 4-4 NACC) held off the Spartans (10-3, 8-1 NACC) down the stretch for their third-straight win in the series.
Stueck scored 20-plus points for the sixth-straight game and added four assists and four steals. Senior Nathan Verdun scored 15 points to go with six rebounds, while freshman Greg Pigg scored 12 points and senior Connor Patterson added 10.
Six different players reached double-figures for Aurora, led by Kalmon Stokes' 14. Nick Kladis scored 13 off the bench and Kyle Pilmer finished with 12. Tyler Hall scored 11, with Sean Gant and Brandon Smith contributing 10 points apiece.
The Raiders led by as many as 14 in the second half, but the Spartans whittled that away to make it a three-point game at 77-74 on a put-back basket with 29 seconds remaining. After an MSOE free throw, Pilmer hit a pair of charity tosses with seven seconds to go to make it 78-76.
Pigg was fouled on the ensuing inbounds and calmly sank both of his free throws with 5.2 seconds to go to seal the victory.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace, with the Spartans playing with the lead early. A 12-2 run gave the Raiders their first lead as they turned an 11-9 deficit into a 21-13 lead with five-straight Pigg points at 12:13.
Aurora clawed its way back and into the lead at 36-31 near the five-minute mark of the half. MSOE finished strong with a 9-2 run heading into the intermission, including the last seven points for a 40-38 lead at the break.
The Raiders once again pulled away in the second half, using an early 8-1 to expand a 43-41 lead to 51-42. Stueck intercepted a pass and dunked it on the other end to give his team its largest lead of the night at 60-46 at the 13:33 mark.
MSOE made 26-of-47 from the field, including 7-of-11 from three-point range. The team also got to the free throw line 29 times and converted 21. The charity tosses were crucial, as Aurora was just 13-of-26 at the line in the game. The visitors finished at 45.2 percent in the game and made 7-of-21 from beyond the arc.
The Raiders return with three games next week, beginning with a home game against Wisconsin Lutheran Tuesday.