In its first game of the 2019-20 season, the Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team defeated Central (Iowa) College 96-94 on Friday night in Horsburgh Gymnasium as part of the opening round of the Bill Sudeck Tournament.
The Spartans (1-0) will next play Centre College (1-0) in the tournament Championship Game at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Colonels defeated Greenville University 132-113 earlier on Friday.
Leading CWRU in scoring was sophomore guard Robert Faller with a career-high 15 points on five-of-nine shooting. On defense, he added six rebounds and four blocks. In a balanced attack, five other Spartans scored in double digits, including junior guard Ignas Masiulionis, first-year forward Cole Frilling, senior guard Monty Khela, sophomore forward Ryan Newton, and junior guard Antonio Ionadi. Frilling added a team-high 11 rebounds for a double-double in his first collegiate game, while also blocking three shots.
Faller, Masiulionis, Frilling, and Newton were part of a Spartan bench that outscored the Dutch 63-8. As a team, the Spartans shot 42.0% from the field on 69 shots, including 13-for-36 (36.1%) from beyond the arc.
However, Case Western Reserve started the game cold, making just two of their first 11 shots, and the Dutch pulled out to a 16-5 lead five minutes into the first half.
After tightening up the defense with five steals and three blocks, CWRU went on a 14-3 run and tied the game at 19 with a three-pointer from Faller right before the midway point of the half.
The Dutch responded by opening up a six-point lead with a pair of threes from junior guard Sean Kostyk, who finished with 15 points. In response, the Spartans tied the score three separate times but could not take the lead away from the Dutch.
Frilling pushed Case Western Reserve ahead with a pair of foul shots with just over three minutes to play in the half. The lead was short-lived, however, as Central took a 38-36 advantage less than a minute later.
Senior guard Sam Hansen's three-pointer broke a 38-38 deadlock with under two minutes to play in the first half, and the Spartans would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the half, leading 44-43 at the break.
Early in the second half, the game remained tight with neither team holding an advantage greater than two points. The Spartans pulled ahead just under three minutes into the period and did not trail for the rest of the half.
CWRU built an 11-point lead, their largest of the night, with 10 minutes to play in the half, leading 71-60 after a three-point play by Newton.
The Dutch cut the lead to just six, 73-67, with under nine minutes left in the game, then after the Spartans went up 11 again, back down to 80-75 with under six to go.
Though the Spartans held an 85-78 lead with over three minutes to play in regulation, the Dutch did not go away easily.
Central cut the deficit to 91-86 with a minute to play and eventually cut the deficit down to two on a jumper by sophomore forward Thomas Spoehr with 10 seconds left in the game. After Khela made two free throws, CWRU fouled with four seconds to play, and Central responded by making a free throw and keeping possession after a miss. A potential game-winning three-pointer hit the rim at the buzzer, and the Spartans escaped with the 96-94 win.
Tip-off of the Bill Sudeck Championship Game at Horsburgh Gymnasium between the Spartans and the Colonels is scheduled for 3 p.m. with the consolation game between the Dutch and the Panthers starting at 1 p.m.