MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Regents men's basketball team picked up a huge 80-78 road win Saturday afternoon over the MSOE Raiders. The victory comes at a crucial time as it moves Rockford back to within a single game of the sixth and final spot in the NACC Tournament. The game was close throughout but the difference was ultimately Rockford's ability to knock down shots, especially from three-point range. The Regents shot a blistering 50.7% from the floor and 60.0% from beyond the arc, while the Raiders shot 42.9% from the field, 26.3% from three-point range and just 35.0% from the free throw line.
The game was close for nearly the entire opening twenty minutes as the Regents entered halftime with just a one-point lead. After trailing for much of the first ten minutes of the half, Rockford strung together a 14-0 run to take a 10-point lead, the largest of the game for either team. Seniors Zach Wallace (Rockford, Ill.) and Trae Blumhorst (Mendota, Ill.) spearheaded the charge with eight and four points respectively. The Raiders would however respond right back with a 10-2 run of their own to pull back within a single basket at 33-31. The Regents and Raiders then went back-and-forth over the remaining two minutes as Rockford took a 37-36 advantage into the intermission.
The second half was equally as competitive as the first with neither team leading by more than six points. MSOE controlled the early portion of the period as the Raiders scored the first four points to retake the lead for the first time since the 10:55 mark in the opening half. The Raiders would extend their lead to a game-high six points on two separate occasions before Rockford began to assert itself. Rockford slowly chipped away at the lead and then jumped back in front for the first time since the opening moments of the half after Zach Wallace converted an old fashion three-point play. MSOE answered right back though scoring four straight points to retake the lead. However the turning point in the game came a few minutes later when the Regents connected on back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to retake the lead for good. Freshman Ben Weber (South Beloit, Ill.) started the three-point barrage by taking and making his only three-pointer of the afternoon, and then junior Ryan Fiorucci (Machesney Park, Ill.) capped off his outstanding performance by draining consecutive shots from beyond the arc to put the Regents on top 77-75 with 3:05 remaining. Zach Wallace and Arthell Rosquist (Zion, Ill.) combined to score the next three points as Rockford held on for the win.
Senior Zach Wallace continues to put together one of the best seasons and careers in recent memory. Wallace poured in a team-high 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds for his twelfth double-double of the season. He was also extremely effective on the defensive end of the floor blocking 4 shots to bring his season total to 54, which is just 11 shy of the school record. Wallace currently leads the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference in scoring (21.3 ppg), rebounding (11.6 rpg), field goal percentage (60.8%) and blocks (2.7 bpg). He is also nearing multiple career milestones. The senior is just 87 points away from 1,500, 5 rebounds shy of 750, and 9 blocks from 200 for his career.
Fellow senior Trae Blumhorst also played a key role in Rockford's win. Blumhorst recorded his first double-double of the year and was just 3 assists shy of a triple-double. The senior scored 15 points, grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds, dished out 7 assists, blocked 3 shots and had one steal.
The Rockford bench had perhaps its best performance of the season led by the duo of Ryan Fiorucci and Nicolas Ramos (Litchfield Park, Ariz.). Fiorucci scored a career-high 15 points as he knocked down 5-of-6 shots from beyond the arc. Ramos had a career-high 10 points with 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block.
The RU men's basketball team returns to the court on Tuesday, January 31 at Dominican University. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM.