Johnson & Wales opened their 2011 5280 Classic hosting #20 Madonna University on Thursday evening in the Wildcat Center. The Wildcats opened the game playing their best game of the season holding the Crusaders to just a one or two basket advantage. The 'Cats tied the game at 21 off a Cedric Ennis bucket and took the lead the next possession with Eric Gardzina nailing a jumper. The Cruaders didn't let that last long though as they quickly evened the game up and took the lead again off back to back shots from inside the key. JWU continued their pressure, with Jake Campbell scoring off a Madonna turnover to tie the game for the third time in the period. MU took over the remaining 1:24 of the period to take a 30-28 lead into the break.
Coming out of the locker room, Kahler Grandbouche added a bucket in the paint to bring the game to an even 30. The Crusaders followed that with a three point shot to take the lead before relinquishing it to the 'Cats. Strong defense and second chance points kept Johnson & Wales in the game but they began to stall on the offense allowing Madonna university to build up their biggest lead of the night holding the 63-51 advantage. JWU went on a 10-3 run in the closing minutes to put more pressure on the Crusaders, but couldn't come up with the strong closing they needed. The Wildcats dropped the 68-75 decision to Madonna University.
Aaron Lampkin led a quartet of Wildcats in double digit scoring with his 12 points while Grandbouche and Gardzina each had seven boards. Bobby Naubert had a game high 24 rebounds and Matt Jenkins brought down 8 rebounds.
The Wildcats will finish out 2011 and their 5280 Classic on New Years Eve when they host Bethany College. The Cruaders will play Bethany on Friday at 3pm in the Wildcat Center.