Defense carries Spartans to second win
Sophomore Marquealis Edwards scored 11 of his team-high 15 points as Southwestern opened up a 37-20 halftime lead in beating Graceland JV here Saturday, 74-51.
Then, after a lull when the Yellow Jackets cut a 21-point lead to a 12-point margin at 51-39, the Spartans caught fire again after a timeout and got it back to 19 points when reserves finished off the non-conference victory.
Coming off a home loss Wednesday to North Central Missouri, coach Mike Holmes said his team did some things well in building the sizable early lead.
“I thought the one thing that was pretty consistent for us throughout the game was that our defensive possessions were pretty good,” Holmes said. “We were actively challenging, rebounding it well and rotating on our back side. Offense was a struggle all day long. I didn’t think we were sharp at all.”
Midway through the second half, Taj Ar-Razzaq and Jorge Lopez hit successive 3-pointers for Graceland, and followed by a layup to cut it to 51-39. Holmes called a timeout for what he called a “wake-up call.”
“They had a couple runouts on us, one where we didn’t identify their best shooter, and then we watched a rebounder go up and get it and lay it in,” Holmes said. “That’s just not being competitive. That (timeout) was more to wake them up than anything.”
Sophomore point guard Delby Halcomb was a spark coming out of the timeout, hitting three straight baskets to make it 60-43 with six minutes left. Then Jack Harrison, 6-7 freshman from Prior Lake, Minn., was the recipient of two good interior feeds from teammates and finished at the rim for a 20-point margin (64-44).
Harrison scored 12 of his 14 points after halftime, and Halcomb had eight of his 11 in the second stanza.
Harrison was a solid inside complement to 6-8 sophomore Devin Kastrup, who contributed nine points, including 4-4 at the free throw line.
“They give us more size and rebounding, but you just hope you can guard the perimeter,” Holmes said. “I think Jack does a pretty good job guarding as well. We put Jack on their shooter for awhile there in the first half. He’s a nice one.”
One glaring concern emerged offensively, however, for Holmes.
“We ran our stuff well,” the Spartan coach said, “but I bet we turned it over 20 times. We will not win one league game doing that. We should be at 10 or fewer every game.”
The Spartans (2-1) are back in action tonight at home against Northwestern College JV at 7 p.m.
“You know what you’re getting when they come in,” Holmes said. “A group with good size and a bunch of vowels in their name, and they can all shoot it.”
GRACELAND JV (51) — Edgar Lopez 13, Jay Lysinger 12, Jorge Lopez 10, Cordell Towers 6, Taj Ar-Razzaq 5, Taylor Eoff 3, Sterling Sherman 2. Totals — 18 8-15 51. 3-point goals — 7 (Lysinger 4, Ar-Razzaq 1, J. Lopez 1, F. Lopez 1. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — None.
SOUTHWESTERN (74) — Marquealis Edwards 15, Jack Harrison 14, Delby Halcomb 11, Marcus Littleton 11, Devin Kastrup 9, Patrick Wright 6, Larry Mason 5, Chase Blazek 3. Totals — 28 12-15 74. 3-point goals — 6 (Littleton 3, Mason 1, Blazek 1, Kastrup 1). Team fouls — 18. Fouled out — None.
Graceland JV — 20 51
SWCC — 37 74