Just one night after giving Clinton Community College its first win in the ICCAC, the Southwestern men played what head coach Mike Holmes said was their most complete game in a 69-60 loss to a Kirkwood team receiving votes nationally.
“We told the guys, just give yourselves an opportunity,” Holmes said. “A lot of energy, keep the rotations, don’t fail to block off. That’s probably about the most complete game they’ve played.”
The Spartans fell behind by 10 points early at 16-6 with 11:40 to go in the first half. Trailing 28-20, the Spartans went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 30-28 late in the second half.
“We didn’t really give up anything in transition, we didn’t give up much at the rim, we didn’t give up many second chances,” Holmes said. “They made a couple of shots off the start and we didn’t. But, we have at times, kind of mentally got out of it at points, but I liked how our guys kind of stayed in it, kept doing our stuff.”
Kirkwood hit four free throws to end the half with a 32-30 lead.
Southwestern carried its energy into the second half, however; quickly building a 41-35 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomores Elliott Hamdeed and Jared Theis.
“We’re trying to help our defense, so we’re possessing the ball,” Holmes said. “Did a good job of that. Didn’t turn it over a lot, got good shots. Mataika finished well inside. Had some guys attacking the rim. Had a couple of big 3-point shots, made free throws. We put ourselves in position to be able to score. We hung a 30-point effort up there (Jan. 22). It shows you we’ve evolved a little bit.”
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Southwestern took a 58-55 lead when Tanner Kellogg hit Hamdeed for a layup.
But Kirkwood answered with a 7-0 run to take a 62-58 lead. The Spartans cut it to 62-60 with 2:16 left.
The final two minutes was all Kirkwood, though. Matthew Lassen hit a jumper from the free throw line and a 3-pointer and Ajay Lawton sank two free throws to give Kirkwood the final 69-60 margin.
“If I could take it and redo something, the last two minutes were not our best,” Holmes said. “We had a failed closeout, we got a little careless on a back cut pass. Those cost us a little bit. I would have liked to have seen a little more poise there, but we haven’t been in those situations a ton.”
The loss dropped Southwestern to 8-20 overall and 1-12 in the ICCAC Division II standings, while Kirkwood improved to 19-9 and 9-4. Wednesday’s game marked the final home appearance for sophomores Theis and Hamdeed.
Hamdeed led the Spartans with 18 points, while Theis added eight. Freshman Mataika Koyamainavure scored 13.
“It’s been a challenging year,” Holmes said. “We’re very young. Our goal was to be playing our best basketball right now. Whatever that is, let’s at least be playing our best basketball right now. So the sophs playing their last game — Dusty (Lyden) should be a sophomore, Elliott and Jared all made good contributions tonight. They can be proud. Tonight was two good teams playing. Whoever was around last year, that kind of felt a little bit like last year’s team. I’m proud of our guys.”
Southwestern finishes the regular season Saturday at Iowa Lakes (20-8, 9-4).
KIRKWOOD (69) — Matthew Lassen 5 2-2 13, Myzeah Batie-Gaddy 5 3-4 13, Jalen Currie 3 6-6 12, Ajay Lawton 2 4-4 9, Henry Uwadiae 2 3-4 7, JC Fuller 3 0-1 6, Joseph Tagarelli 2 1-2 5, Joseph Weeks 1 0-0 2, Tyler Bussell 1 0-0 2. Totals — 24 19-23 69. Team fouls — 20. Fouled out — none.
SOUTHWESTERN (60) — Elliott Hamdeed 6 5-5 18, Mataika Koyamainavure 5 3-6 13, Tanner Kellogg 2 4-4 9, Jared Theis 3 0-0 8, Dylan Tucker 2 2-5 6, Nick Lenhard 0 4-4 4, Nikola Drobnjak 1 0-0 2. Totals — 19 18-24 60. Team fouls — 18. Fouled out — Koyamainavure.
Kirkwood — 32 69
SWCC — 30 30