The Southwestern men’s basketball team played “Spartan basketball” in the second half here Wednesday, fighting back for a 57-52 win over North Central Missouri.
The Pirates had defeated the Spartans 60-56 earlier this season.
After a first half marred by defensive miscues left Southwestern trailing 31-25 at half, the Spartans tightened up the defense in the second half, leading their charge back to the lead.
“Based on the second half, that was total Spartan basketball,” head coach Mike Holmes said. “They’re very talented, and that’s a 20-point half that we put on them. So when we were not really efficient, it doesn’t matter because we’re hanging around, hanging around. They’re having trouble getting in the flow. That’s our formula.”
It took nearly four full minutes before either team scored in the second half, when Elliott Hamdeed opened the scoring on a layup after a Mataika Koyamainavure steal.
The Spartans slowly chipped away at the lead and eventually took the lead for the first time of the second half with 6:48 remaining at 39-38 on a Koyamainavure putback.
Southwestern eventually built a six-point lead, but the Pirates battled back with fullcourt pressure that forced several Spartan turnovers.
Larry Mason drew a charge on the Pirates with :34 left in the game, giving the Spartans a chance to extend their lead.
“Massive,” Holmes said about the drawn charge. “Even some of the charges we tried to take and didn’t get, that sends a message. There is a point for us to tell dribble penetration guys we’re not going to let you get to the rim. When you get the call, all those good things happen. You force a turnover, you put another foul on them, you get the ball back. You put that in their mind. I think that was a huge play, and it was a good play.”
Southwestern took a seven-point lead after free throws from Hamdeed and Mason, but Jory Woodson nailed a 3-pointer with :15 remaining to cut the lead to five.
But, North Central Missouri was called for a foul on the blockout, and a technical foul was assessed to the Pirate bench in the aftermath.
Matt Orchard hit both technical free throws and one of two free throws on the foul to make the score 57-50.
Orchard and Hamdeed each scored 15 points to lead the Spartans, while Koyamainavure added 13.
“I thought that was tremendous, the second half,” Holmes said. “Despite the fact I wouldn’t call us offensively brilliant. We ran our stuff, we took pretty good care of the ball up to the press break. We took good shots. What else can you do?”
Defensive miscues led to the first half deficit after Southwestern had jumped to a 10-2 lead early in the game.
On several occasions, the Spartans got beat in transition for easy baskets.
“We should never get beat in transition on a fast break,” Holmes said. “We don’t want to give up transition baskets and they got transition basket after transition basket in the first half. That should never happen to us.”
The difference between the two halves can serve as a lesson for the young Spartans, Holmes said.
“I was irritated with our guys at halftime, because they weren’t playing to their capability,” Holmes said. “That’s what we said to them afterward — look what you’re capable of when you’re rotating and we’re blocking people out. That’s our formula. We executed that really, really well. Now if we can just build on that and get some consistency.”
Southwestern, now 4-2 for the season, travels to Central Nebraska on Tuesday.
NC MISSOURI (52) — Tyrell Thirkield 2 2-4 6, Jory Woodson 4 2-2 11, Tyler Peterson 6 0-5 13, Xavier Newson 6 9-11 21, Avion Ashford 0 1-2 1. Totals — 18 14-24 52. 3-point goals — 2 (Woodson 1, Peterson 1). Team fouls — 16. Fouled out — none.
SOUTHWESTERN (57) — Larry Mason 1 5-7 7, Mataika Koyamainavure 6 1-3 13, Elliott Hamdeed 5 3-4 15, Matt Orchard 5 4-5 15, Jared Theis 1 0-2 3, Tanner Kellogg 2 0-0 4. Totals — 20 13-21 57. 3-point goals — 4 (Hamdeed 2, Orchard 1, Theis 1). Team fouls — 19. Fouled out — Mason.
NCMC — 31 52
SWCC — 25 57