MARSHALL, Mo. – Heading into the final three games of the regular season, the No. 11-ranked Raven men's basketball team held a two-game lead over the field as they traveled to Missouri Valley College on Sunday.
Benedictine (20-6, 13-3 HAAC) clinched a share of the HAAC regular season championship as they picked up a 56-50 win over Missouri Valley (15-12, 8-8 HAAC).
Not only did the win secure Benedictine at least a share of the title, it allowed the Ravens to post their eighth 20-win season in program history and second since joining the HAAC for the 1992-93 season.
The first half played through three ties and two lead changes with neither team able to pull away. Benedictine led by as much as five points by the midpoint of the half which came after Missouri Valley led by as much as four points inside the first six minutes of the game.
By halftime, the Ravens had taken over the lead, 23-22.
Benedictine held a slight advantage shooting in the first half, converting on 39.1 percent from the floor to Missouri Valley's 30 percent.
Missouri Valley took over the lead early in the second half and pushed ahead by as much as eight points twice before Benedictine started to get their offensive rhythm back.
Trailing 42-43 with seven minutes and 43 seconds left in the game, the Ravens comeback started with a 3-pointer from Brett Fisher with seven minutes and 23 seconds remaining.
Fisher's 3-pointer sparked a 10-0 by Benedictine that allowed the Ravens to regain the lead with just under six minutes to play.
After the games fourth and fifth ties, the lead changed hands one more time before Benedictine closed out the game outscoing Missouri Valley 7-2 to earn the win.
The Ravens offense heated up to 47.6 percent from the floor in the second half while they went 10 of 15 from the free throw line to help seal their 20th win of the season.
Fisher finished with a game-high 12 points, as he converted on 3 of 5 from beyond the arc to go along with a 3 for 4 effort at the free throw line. Jonathan Anaekwe added 10 points, all of which came in the second half. Jallen Messersmith narrowly missed a triple-double in the win. He pulled in a game-high 11 rebounds, scored 9 points and tallied 7 blocks for the Ravens.
Benedictine remains the road Thursday, traveling to Canton, Mo., to take on No. 12 Culver-Stockton College at 7:30 p.m. Sitting at 13-3 in HAAC play, the Ravens need one more win over Culver or on March 1 against Evangel University to clinch the outright HAAC Championship and the HAAC's first automatic bid to the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Div. I National Championship Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., on March 19-25.