FOND DU LAC, Wis. - The RU men's basketball team (8-9, 6-6 NACC) won its third straight NACC game on Saturday with a hard-fought 66-60 victory over the Marian University Sabres (8-9, 7-5 NACC). It was truly an outstanding defensive performance by the Regents as they held the Sabres to just 34.8% shooting from the floor (23-66) and 21.7% from three-point range (5-23). Rockford also did an excellent job limiting its turnovers to just 9, while forcing 16 Marian turnovers and converting them into 15 points.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured 8 ties and 6 lead changes as neither team was able to get much separation. The largest lead of the half for either team came at the 10:12 mark when Marian held a 19-14 advantage. Fortunately the Regents were able to hunker down defensively and go on an 8-2 run to retake the lead at 22-21. Freshman Kevin Diemer (Rockford, Ill.) was directly involved in all four of Rockford's baskets during the run. Diemer scored 4 points on a perfect 2-for-2 shooting, while assisting on the other two baskets. However, Marian closed the half strong and took a 31-27 edge into the break. It was not a stellar shooting performance for either team in the first half as Rockford shot 31.6% from the floor, while the Sabres connected on 37.1% of their shot attempts. Rockford got nearly half of its points from just two players as Kevin Diemer and Ben Temrowski (Rochester, Mich.) each entered halftime with 6 points.
The second half was a different story though, as the Regents began to find their rhythm offensively, while also continuing to play lockdown defense. Rockford came roaring out of the break on a 6-0 run to retake the lead, which it would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. The Regents extended their advantage to a game-high 11 points with 3:14 remaining before Marian made things interesting in the closing moments. The Sabres cut the RU lead to 4 points and had possession of the ball with just under a minute remaining. Fortunately Rockford was able to make just enough free throws in the final seconds to hold off the Sabre charge and earn a critical 66-60 road victory. Unlike the first half, Rockford really shot the ball well connecting on 55.6% (15-27) of its attempts over the final 20 minutes. Kevin and Tony Diemer (Rockford, Ill.) were especially deadly from the floor, as the two combined to score 25 of the team's 39 second half points. Conversely the Sabres struggled mightily as Rockford clamped down defensively. Marian made just 32.3% (10-31) of its shots and was an abysmal 9.1% (1-11) from three-point range.
Freshman Kevin Diemer was by far the best offensive option for either team on Saturday, as he was the only player to make over 50% of his shot attempts. Diemer shot a blistering 70% (7-10) from the floor to score a career and game-high 18 points. He has now scored in double-figures in four straight games. Diemer rounded out his afternoon with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal. Junior Tony Diemer also played well, finishing with 17 points and 6 rebounds. He is now just 2 points shy of 1,000, sitting at 998 career points. Senior Trae Blumhorst (Mendota, Ill.) tallied his second double-double in as many games against the Sabres on Saturday. Blumhorst finished with 11 points and tied his career-high with 13 rebounds.
The RU men's basketball team will look to make it four in a row on Tuesday, January 23 when the Regents travel to Edgewood College. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM.