MILWAUKEE – Junior Matthew Kirmse had 34 points and 11 rebounds to lead the MSOE men's basketball team to a thrilling 71-69 victory over Benedictine Thursday evening at Hotchkin Arena.
The Raiders (11-1, 6-1 NACC) repeatedly pulled away from the Eagles (6-6, 3-4 NACC) but found themselves in a dogfight down the stretch.
Kirmse hit back-to-back buckets late in regulation to put MSOE ahead for good, first with 2:59 remaining and then a deep jumper in the corner with 46 seconds on the clock to make it 69-66. After a free throw made it 70-66 Kenny Bogus followed with an old fashioned three-point play to set up tense final moments.
Benedictine forced a turnover with 18 seconds on the clock but a quick shot was off the mark. Kirmse pulled down the rebound and hit a single free throw with 5.9 seconds remaining to establish a two-point advantage. The Eagles were then unable to get a shot off before the final horn.
Junior Jake Gebert added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Red & White.
Eric Grygo paced BenU with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 14 rebounds. Bogus finished with 15 points thanks to a 7-for-7 clip at the free throw line and Bryan Jakobsze added 11.
Throughout the night, the Raiders would pull away just to see the Eagles battle back. To start the second half, it was eight-straight points and an 11-2 run to start the frame that built a 46-36 lead. The score was then 50-44 when MSOE opened a game-high 12-point lead at 60-48 with a 10-4 spurt.
Benedictine then preceded to score the next 14 points of the game to take a 62-60 lead. The visitors would tack on one more point to its advantage at 65-60 before Kirmse's back-to-back buckets set up the final moments.
The first half was played tight with MSOE regularly threatening to pull away. It was BenU, however, that got off to the fast start at 8-2. The Red & White rallied with a 13-1 run to take a 15-9 lead. The visitors would answer back with four quick points before a 9-2 Raider run made it 24-15. Once again, the Eagles pulled back, this time with a 10-1 run, to even the game at 25-25.
MSOE would get its lead back up to five points in the closing minutes of the opening half but Benedictine tallied the last four points to make it 35-34 at the intermission.
For the game, the Red & White shot 44.6 percent from the field, including an 8-for-14 clip from three-point range. The team got to the free throw line 19 times, converting 13. Meanwhile, BenU shot 41 percent in the game and made just 4-of-19 three-point attempts. The Eagles went 15-for-21 at the free throw line.
The Raiders return to the floor Saturday, hosting Edgewood.