Men’s basketball defeats Vikings to end losing streak

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Men’s basketball defeats Vikings to end losing streak

Story by Sara

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After dropping its conference opener Thursday, the Baker University men’s basketball team bounced back against Missouri Valley College to improve to 1-1 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Saturday in Collins Center.

The Wildcats played Avila University in their first conference game, and after being down just one point at halftime, Baker allowed the Eagles to go on a 14-2 run to begin the second half.

With just under two minutes to go, a 3-point shot by senior Corey Anderson would put Baker back within three, but Avila shot 7 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final minutes to seal the 66-59 victory.

Senior Ben Steinlage, junior Julian Mills and Anderson all scored in double figures, but the Eagles took advantage of the Wildcats’ 25 turnovers.

While Baker’s turnover struggles continued against Missouri Valley, the team caused the Vikings to commit 15 of their own.

Early in the second half, the Wildcats were in control of a 26-point lead but their 21 turnovers helped put Missouri Valley back in the game.

“That was definitely disappointing,” head coach Sean Dooley said. “Normally when you lose a lead like that it matters what you are doing both offensively and defensively. They sped us up and we got careless with the ball.”

Despite the turnovers, the Wildcats shot 53 percent from behind the arc and 62 percent from the field. These statistics helped the team grab a 41-25 halftime lead, and Baker continued to pull away after the break.

The Wildcats went on a 15-5 run but Missouri Valley responded with a 21-4 rally to put itself back within nine with less than five minutes remaining.

Baker was able to hold off Missouri Valley in the final minutes, though, and improved to 7-4 on the season with the 74-61 victory. With the win, the Wildcats were also able to break their three-game losing streak.

“We really feel like we can beat anybody and we can also lose to anybody,” Dooley said. “It’s all about us playing the way we need to play, playing hard for 40 minutes.”

Steinlage was the anchor for Baker once again with 13 points and 14 rebounds. He leads the team in both categories this season with 84 boards and 132 points.

Seniors Todd Elis and Jordan Honore also chipped in 12 points apiece for the Wildcats. Both players went 2-2 from the 3-point line.

The Wildcats will look to improve their conference record at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they take on Evangel University in Springfield, Mo.

Evangel is also 1-1 in conference play and is 8-3 on the season.