Finlandia men secure first win of season

Paul Peterson photo Brandon Robinette of Finlandia University maneuvers inside in second half action Saturday against Marian College. The Lions won their first game of the season with a 65-57 decision at Paavo Nurmi Gym.

HANCOCK — It wasn’t a thing of beauty by any means, but the Finlandia University men’s basketball team scored its first win of the season Saturday afternoon over Marian College.

The Lions 65-57 victory at Paavo Nurmi Gymnasium was carved out in the second half when they outscored the visitors by a 45-30 margin.

“No, it wasn’t a pretty win,” Finlandia coach Mike O’Donnell said ruefully. “But we’ll take a win. A win is a win at this point for us.”

Down by a 16-6 margin to begin the game, the locals fell back by a 27-20 count at the intermission before getting untracked.

A 20-1 Lions run to open the second half was sparked by junior forward Brandon Robinette and freshman guard Ricky Watson.

Robinette, the former Escanaba High standout, led the Lions with a game-high 17 points and 15 rebounds in a solid all-around performance.

Watson, who missed all six of his field goal tries in the opening half, collected 16 points. He also hit several key free throws in the closing moments to keep the Sabres at bay.

“I thought Brandon Robinette really stepped up today,” O’Donnell noted. “He helped us get going after a really slow first half.

“Ricky Watson found his game in the second half and made some key plays in the second half.”

The visiting Sabres, who trailed by 14 points with five minutes left in the game, cut the margin to 58-55 with under two minutes left.

“Marian kept playing hard, they made some shots,” O’Donnell said. “You have to give them credit.

Watson, who was a perfect 8 for 8 at the stripe, nailed four free throws and assisted teammate Dylan Underwood for a basket to help his team seal the deal.

Underwood netted 13 points and made three steals for FU, while Myles Ellington chipped in 10 points and 3 assists.

Marian was topped by Tavaris McCullough with 15 points. Kelvin Jones was next with 10 points, while Alex Manhardt had eight points and 11 rebounds.

Finlandia will travel to UW-Oshkosh on Tuesday.

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MARIAN — Polycysnki 2, Pinson 6, Manhardt 8, McCullough 15, Fouse 5, Jones 10, Hansen 4, Wilson 3, Knudsen 3, Rahn 2. FG: 20-69; FT: 15-25; Rebounds: 47 (Manhardt 11); Fouls: 26; Fouled out: Pinson; 3-pt. FG: Fouse 1, McCullough 1.

FINLANDIA — Watson 16, Ellington 10, Robinette 17, Carlson 3, Underwood 13; Green 3, Johnston 3. FG: 21-50; FT: 19-29; Rebounds: 42 (Robinette 15); Fouls 20; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: Watson 2, Underwood 1, Johnston 1.

Halftime score: Marian 27, FU 20.