The Southwestern men’s basketball team quickly turned a two-point halftime lead into a 20-point lead early in the second half of the home opener here Wednesday, as the Spartans rolled to a 74-59 win.
Southwestern improved to 1-2 on the season with the win over William Penn’s JV team.
The Spartans saw a nine-point first half lead disintegrate into a 34-32 lead at halftime as the Statesmen shot their way back into the game with 3-pointers.
But, Southwestern came out with improved defensive intensity and close out better on the William Penn shooters, starting the half with a quick 7-0 run capped off by a Jared Theis offensive rebound and putback.
Head coach Mike Holmes said his team made a conscious effort to keep their hands off while playing defense, and did a good job of executing that plan. But, in the first half, his players were not aggressively closing out.
“That was kind of the adjustment we tried to make at halftime,” Holmes said about closing out. “When we do that, guys can’t get comfortable. Now they make that dribble, they’re used to a game where if you get by your guy, you’re usually OK. But not with us. We funnel him, we rotate, we rotate, we rotate and that’s what closes off the passing lanes.”
The Spartans did a good job of jumping those passing lanes in the second half, forcing turnovers. During the 7-0 run to start the second half, one turnover led to a Larry Mason layup in transition, which Holmes said was the team’s first runout of the season.
After William Penn scored a floater and got one of two free throws, the Spartans answered with a 14-0 run capped off by a Mataika Koyamainavure spin move into a reverse layup, making the score 55-35.
“When you’re guarding, you can relax a little bit on offense,” Holmes said. “Elliott Hamdeed and (Matt) Orchard hit a couple of shots. I liked the way Mataika finished inside. We needed that. We’re very young. We just needed that. It was a little bit of a learning experience there, because we can equate our intensity and ball pressure a little more with success.”
Koyamainavure led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points. Theis chipped in 12, while Elliott Hamdeed (11) and Larry Mason (10) each got into double figures, as well. Matt Orchard added nine points.
Holmes said rebounding also improved in the second half, with Theis, in particular, doing a good job on the defensive boards.
“The first half, they missed a shot and I didn’t know who was getting the rebound,” Holmes said. “In the second half, I was pretty sure we were getting the rebound, because we were getting into people and blocking out. When the teams get bigger and a little more athletic, you’re going to pay if you don’t get into those guys, so that was good to see.”
Holmes was able to clear the bench late in the 74-59 victory, and felt the young guys off the bench played well down the stretch.
“Give our young guys credit — some of the guys deep off the bench against their 2-3 zone, we had a couple of nice high-low plays,” he said. “Overall, good stuff for us. We needed to get a W. We needed to be kind of convincing like that. It’s hard to execute at that level all the time until you get used to that’s the expectation.”
The Spartans return to action 2 p.m. Saturday at Northwestern College in Orange City.
WILLIAM PENN JV (59) — Peyton Thomas 1 4-4 6, Demarre Daniels 1 0-0 2, Torrence Neal 0 1-2 1, Maurice Hale 2 3-4 7, Logan Schreier 4 1-1 9, Alex Morris 2 0-0 6, Connor Hogberg 2 0-0 5, Dominique Wynne 2 0-0 5, Cy Rayhill 2 0-0 6, Austin Walker3 0-0 7, Titus Letzring 0 2-2 2. Totals — 20 11-14 59. 3-point goals — 8 (Hogberg 2, Rayhill 2). Team fouls — 16. Fouled out — none.
SOUTHWESTERN (74) — Larry Mason 4 2-3 10, Mataika Koyamainavure 5 2-5 13, Elliott Hamdeed 5 0-0 11, Dylan Tucker 1 0-0 2, Nick Lenhard 0 5-6 5, Nikola Drobnjak 2 0-0 4, Matt Orchard 3 2-2 9, Jared Theis 5 0-0 12, Tanner Kellogg 4 0-0 8. Totals — 29 11-16 74. 3-point goals — 5 (Theis 2, Orchard 1, Hamdeed 1, Koyamainavure 1). Team fouls — 15. Fouled out — Theis.
WP JV — 32 59
SWCC — 34 79