Spartan men win 2012-2013 NAC Championship in decisive fashion

AU celebrates the NAC Championship

AU celebrates the NAC Championship

The Aurora University men’s basketball won the 2013 Northern Athletics Conference tournament championship game Saturday night by defeating Lakeland College 95-71 in Plymouth, Wis.

With the win, AU will advance to the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament for the ninth time in school history and first time since the 2010 season.

The Spartans got off to a hot start as they jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead while shooting an impressive 64-percent from three-point range in the first half. AU expanded the lead to 19-2, making five three-pointers and starting the game 7-of-10 from the field.

Senior Mike Bumber was one of the main contributors as he was five-for-six in the first half while going seven-for-eight for the game from three-point range. Bumber and fellow senior Mark Adams each had two three-pointers in the 19-2 opening run.

After a Lakeland timeout the Spartans continued to dominate expanding the lead to 22 halfway through the first half (31-9).

The Spartans led by as many as 26 points (51-25) with 3:32 to play in the opening half before the host Muskies chipped away in the final minutes. AU would head into halftime up 18 (51-33).

To open the second half Lakeland came out firing and started to chip away at the Spartan lead. With 9:19 to play in the game, the Spartan lead had been cut to seven (70-63).
AU and the veteran leadership held strong and answered with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to build the lead back to 18 (81-63). The Spartans were not finished though, continuing to rebuild the large lead and would finish the final 9:19 of the game on a 25-8 run.

Spartans Esteban Vega and Scott Laskowski were vital down the stretch as they took over the game as the defense tightened up and shut the Muskies down.

Vega was a perfect eight-of-eight from the free-throw line in the second half and helped solidify the lead and victory.

Five Spartans finished with double-digit scoring days led by Adams and Bumber who each had 21 points. Laskowski and freshman Kalmon Stokes had 11 points, Vega had 10 points and 13 assists, while sophomore Kyle Pilmer had nine points and 10 rebounds.

AU is now 22-6 and 2012-2013 Northern Athletics Conference Champions. The Spartans will travel to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. for the first round contest on Saturday, March 2, 2013.  AU will open up against the Tommies (26-1) from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.