ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University men's basketball team (5-3, 3-1 NACC) took to the hardwood Wednesday night to face off against fellow unbeaten Benedictine University (4-3, 4-0 NACC). The game played out as expected with a down to the wire contest. Unfortunately, Rockford saw its first loss in the NACC this season as it dropped the match 75-70. In a game that featured 13 lead changes and 13 ties it could have gone either way. Both sides shot similar on the night with the Eagles going 43.9% from the floor compared to the Regents 42.4%. Key factors in the game were Rockford being outrebounded 47-39 and free-throw shooting. While neither team shot particularly well from the line Benedictine connected on 61.9% of its free-throws compared to just 50.0% for Rockford. Another factor was the bench play as Benedictine's bench marginally outscored Rockford's 23-7.
The first half opened with both teams exchanging buckets in a fast-paced game. Rockford did a good job playing physical as RU put the Eagles in foul trouble early as the team surrendered 6 fouls less than eight minutes into the game. Sophomore Ben Weber (South Beloit, Ill.) pulled up for a big time three that shifted momentum as the Regents went on a 5-0 run capped off by a Tony Diemer (Rockford, Ill.) layup to put Rockford up 17-15. The Regents and the Eagles would not let one another gain any advantage as the game ensued as Rockford led 30-28 with 3 minutes left in the half. BU put together a 4-0 run before two big time free-throws from Kevin Diemer (Rockford, Ill.) helped notch the game at 32-32 with under a minute to play. The Regents played well defensively stealing the ball five times with Trae Blumhorst (Mendota, Ill.) having three of those despite trailing at the half 37-34. Tony Diemer was a key factor for RU as he scored 16 points in the first half on 8-of-15 shooting. Rockford shot 39.4% from the floor compared to Benedictine's 36.1%.
Rockford's Tony Diemer started the second half continuing to dominate as he came off a screen to knock down a three in the opening minutes. RU would regain the lead on a 5-0 run capped off by a deep three from Weber making the score 48-46 with 13 minutes left in the half. Not long after transfer Taylor Krocker (Portage, Wis.) would show off his distance as he hit his second three of the night to give RU a 52-50 lead. Fellow Transfer Will Adams (Chicago, Ill.) found his groove showing of his handles and scoring 4 points to put Rockford back up 57-54 with 9 minutes to play. Just how the game had gone much of the night the Eagles this time saw itself on a 6-0 run to take the lead at 60-57 with just under 7 minutes to play in the game. Freshman Brandon Emerick (Elkhart, Ind.) would come down the court and hit a three to bring it within one. However, a BU layup would increase the lead to 67-64 with just 1:51 to play. Adams would drive to the hoop to score and bring the game back within one with 1:02 left in regulation. Rockford saw itself down 73-70 with less than 30 seconds to play but the RU three-point attempt would be no good. In a game with much anticipated hype it lived up to the expectation as Benedictine came out victorious in a tight game 75-70.
Despite Rockford dropping its first NACC game of its 2017-18 campaign there were three Regents who scored in the double-digits on Wednesday night. Tony Diemer played outstanding as he led all scorers on the night in route to dropping a season-high 25 points on 12-of-22 shooting. Diemer also tallied 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Trae Blumhorst played very well on both sides of the floor for Rockford recording 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block. Blumhorst was able to contain Benedictine's Brayden Olson who had scored 20 points in three of his last four games including a pair of 30-point performances. Blumhorst held Olson to 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor including 1-of-9 from three. Will Adams scored all 10 of his points in the second half including 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Ben Weber was just shy of a double-double as he chalked up 9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Taylor Krocker had 9 points while shooting 2-for-2 from beyond the arc to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
The RU men's basketball team looks to get back in the win column as it travels to MSOE on Saturday, December 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 PM.