Buena Vista had its 18-point second half lead erased, but got key free-throw shooting down the stretch, as well as a big bucket from sophomore Alex Savage (Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic), and the Beavers hung on to edge UW-Superior on Saturday afternoon, 74-72.
Senior Troy Ticknor (Adel, Iowa/ADM) gave BVU a 51-33 cushion with 14:19 left in regulation, and the Beavers seemed to be in control. But the Yellowjackets then caught fire, using a 21-5 run over the next five minutes to get all the way back within two at 56-54. Included in that stretch were all three of the team’s second-half three-point makes.
Sophomore Brett Heitkamp (Johnston, Iowa/Johnston) then scored six straight points for BVU to keep the Beavers in front by six with 6:25 to play, but the Yellowjackets had yet another answer, scoring six straight to tie things up with just over five minutes left.
The game was back-and-forth from there with two more ties, including at 67-67 with 1:21 remaining. Savage then came up big for BVU, knocking down a jumper from the baseline in front of the Beaver bench with under a minute left and the team never trailed the rest of the way.
With the Yellowjackets forced to foul, and keeping the game close with buckets at their end of the court, BVU calmly hit 5-of-6 free-throw attempts, including all four tries from Ticknor, who’s shooting better than 84 percent from the charity stripe on the year. The team had converted just 3-of-8 at the line up to that point.
UW-S scored eight of the game’s first 10 points before the Beavers got a three-pointer from Savage to help spark a 6-1 run and give BVU its first lead at 9-8. The game was tied at both 15-15 and 21-21 before sophomore Greg Sibenaller (Hornick, Iowa/Westwood), who matched his career-high with 10 first-half points, scored a lay-up with 5:14 left in the opening half and helped spark a 10-0 Beaver run.
The Yellowjackets got back within five with late in the half before Wes Nordquist’s (Adel, Iowa/ADM) jumper with less than 10 seconds left gave BVU a 36-29 halftime lead.
Nordquist, who chalked up a team-high 15 points, became the program’s third player in history to reach 1,300 career points and 700 career rebounds. Sibenellar finished with a career-high 12 points, to go along with five rebounds, as Savage followed with 10 points and four assists.
BVU shot just 39.7 percent overall, including 4-of-19 from downtown. It did make up for some of the cold shooting at the defensive end where it out-rebounded the Yellowjackets, 47-37, and forced 14 turnovers, while committing only seven.
Bronson Byrne, the big 7-footer for Superior, turned in a game-high 21 points.
The win is the fifth straight overall for the Beavers, who improve to 6-3 overall. It’s now off until it heads out west at the end of the month for a pair of non-conference games out in California.
The team will tip-off at the University of Redlands (6-2) on December 29 at 4:00pm CT. The following day, it will play a 6:00pm CT contest at Pomona-Pitzer.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.