Milligan comes up with big conference win, takes down Johnson University

Published 10:34 am Monday, February 19, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

In a game the Buffs desperately needed to keep pace in the Appalachian Athletic Conference standings, their defense came up big in the final minutes to squash the Royals’ rally. With the win, Milligan gets back to .500 and puts an end to their 2-game skid.

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The game could not have started better for the Buffs as they jumped out to a 16-5 early advantage after a Folie Bogan 3-pointer. But as the first period was closing, the Royals responded with a 15-0 run to take a 28-23 lead. The Buffs responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Lincoln Thomae to tie the game at 32.

The Buffs and Royals continued their see-saw play, but the Buffs responded with a 10-2 run with two minutes left in the half. Once again, the Royals responded with a run of their own before back-to-back technical fouls put Milligan back ahead going into the locker room 46-45.

Johnson University came out of the locker room to claim a modest lead three minutes into the second half. Bogan hit a 3-pointer, and Finn McClure shot a short jumper off an offensive rebound to give Milligan the lead back at the 14:26 mark of the second half, a lead they would not relinquish. Milligan pushed their lead to 10 after a 10-4 run, highlighted by a McCaskill Rivers 3-pointer. Lincoln Thomae hit an impressive one-handed putback to push the Milligan lead to 11 at 77-65 with just a little over three minutes left.

Twice in the final minutes, the Royals closed to within three points, but Rivers worked the boards hard in the final minutes to drain precious seconds off the clock as the Buffs held on. Bogan knocked down a couple of free throws to push the final score to 86-81. Bogan, last week’s AAC Player of the Week, finished with 33 points, while Thomae and Rivers finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Milligan finished the game with 20 three-pointers.

With the win, the Buffs stay in 6th place but are just a game out of 4th place with two games left. Post-game, Milligan University Head Coach Bill Robinson touted his team’s defensive efforts in the closing minutes. “We were able to get key defensive stops at timely moments, we stepped up and did a great job rebounding the basketball in the final minutes, and Bogan hit some key shots late.”

Milligan will travel to Bluefield on Wednesday before their home game against Saint Andrews.