MADISON, Wisconsin – The MSOE men's basketball team outscored Edgewood 40-21 in the second half to break open a tight game and run away with an 84-62 victory Saturday afternoon at the Edgedome.
The Raiders (17-2, 12-2 NACC) led by just three at halftime before pulling away from the Eagles (7-11, 7-6 NACC) with large runs in the second half.
Junior Matthew Kirmse scored a game-high 26 points, including his 1,000th career point early in the first half. He was crisp in the game, shooting 9-for-12 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 at the free throw line. He attempted an uncharacteristic two 3-pointers, making one, after entering the game with a league-best 3.2 made treys per contest.
Junior Travis Ballard scored 16 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting with a 2-for-2 clip at the free throw line. Senior Gabe Wear hit three 3-pointers for nine points and freshman Michael Pitrof added eight points and nine rebounds.
Jake Negus led Edgewood with 19 points. Ben Seefeld had 14 points and Emil Radisevic finished with 11.
MSOE could not pull away from the Eagles in the first half, as the hosts proved pesky and regularly rallied back.
With a slight three-point, 44-42 lead at halftime, the Raiders got off to a solid start in the second half with a quick 9-2 run to open up a 10-point lead at 53-43. Once again, Edgewood pulled close, this time at 55-51. However, the Red & White was able to put the game away for good with a protracted 29-9 run that lasted until under four minutes remained the regulation. The stretch included scoring spurts of 11-0 and 9-0 for MSOE as it was able to comfortably put the game away.
The Raiders shot over 50 percent for the third straight game, finishing at 56.4 percent while going a season-best 17-of-18 at the free throw line. They went just 5-of-15 from three-point range but controlled the paint with a 38-24 scoring advantage inside and a decisive 43-27 rebounding advantage.
Edgewood finished the game shooting just 32.8 percent after being held to a 19.2 percentage in the second half. The hosts went 7-of-23 from three-point range and made 15-of-20 free throws.
Senior Jason Palesse had another strong game directing the offense as he dished out 10 assists in the game against no turnovers and grabbed eight rebounds. Over his last seven games, he's averaging 8.0 assists per game with an 8.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (56/7). He also surpassed Neil Trainor for fourth place in program history with 345 career assists.
Kirmse entered the game needing seven points to reached 1,000 career points. He hit the milestone on the head as his lone three-pointer in the game did the trick at the 13:59 mark of the first half. He is the 16th member of the program's 1,000-point club and the seventh to reach the mark as a junior. He finished the day with 1,019 career points in 73 games.
With the win, MSOE moved into sole possession of first place in the NACC standings, one game in the win column ahead of second-place Concordia Wisconsin. The Raiders and Falcons meet for the first time this season Tuesday at Hotchkin Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Red & White is also four games clear of third place with six games remaining as it looks to lock up a first-round bye for the NACC Tournament as one of the top two seeds.