HANCOCK, Mich. – Josh Creed converted a late three-point play and Alex Stecker hit a pair of clutch free throws with eight seconds remaining in the second half to secure Marian's 67-64 win over Finlandia Saturday evening.
Trailing 64-62 with 1:56 remaining Creed drove through heavy contact to draw the foul and finished the layup. Creed hit the free throw and Marian seized a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The opening five minutes the game each team trade baskets and at the 15-minute mark the Lions led 13-10. However, Finlandia (0-1) went on a 14-1 run that lasted nearly five minutes and Marian was left looking at a 27-11 hole to climb out of.
The Sabres slowly clawed their way back and closed out the first half with a 23-12 run and entered the break trailing 39-34.
Marian started the second half with four-straight points and led 40-39 – its first lead since 17:40 in the first half.
At 8:54 Creed hit a pair of free throws and Marian led 55-48, the Sabres' largest lead of the game.
Montrell Hobbs and Creed each scored a team-high 18 points.
Creed was particularly dangerous from the free-throw line. The 6-foot-6 forward was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Hobbs was 6-of-9 from the floor and had a game-high three blocks.
As a team the Sabres shot 37 percent (20-of-53) from the floor, but in the second half hit 44 percent (11-of-25) of their shots.
Despite being outrebounded 36-32, Marian scored 28 points in the paint, while holding Finlandia to 10.
Marian (1-0) returns to the hardwood Wednesday, Nov. 18 against Beloit. Tip is for 7 p.m. at Sadoff Gymnasium.