CHICAGO—The 2019-20 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) opener pitted the Illinois Institute of Technology men's basketball team at home against Benedictine University (Ill.) on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles, who are four years removed from appearing in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Final Four, either tied or led the entire contest until Ahmad Muhammad's layup with 1:46 remaining gave the Scarlet Hawks a 51-50 lead. Benedictine iced the contest with five made free throws within the final 1:07 to secure a 55-51 victory over the Scarlet Hawks.
"I was pretty disappointed in our performance today," said IIT head men's basketball coach Todd Kelly. "Being the first conference game of the year, we really wanted to come out strong particularly being at home. We've played pretty well at home over the last few years so I'm disappointed we dropped a game at home to a team that's a rival now that we're in the same conference. I think our best players have to play better and that's the bottom line."
The loss drops the Scarlet Hawks to 0-3, 0-1 NACC while Benedictine University improves to 4-1, 1-0 NACC.
Max Hisatake and Miles Curry accounted for 26 of IIT's 36 rebounds on the afternoon. Hisatake tallied a double-double 16 boards and 12 points while Curry also notched a double-double with 10 rebounds, 15 points as well as a game-high four assists. Otis Reale rounded out the IIT players in double-figure scoring with 14 points.
Eric Grygo, who hit four clutch free throws within the final 0:15, registered a game-high 18 points for Benedictine. The Scarlet Hawks held advantages in rebounding (36-33), assists (12-10) and three-pointers made (7-4).
Next on the docket for IIT is UW-Platteville (Receiving Votes), who will invade the Keating Sports Center on Tuesday, November 26 at 7:00 p.m.