Wildcats fall in HAAC standings

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The Baker University men’s basketball team’s losing skid increased to eight consecutive games this week after falling to MidAmerica Nazarene University 80-58 on Jan. 30 and to Central Methodist University 76-68 on Saturday.

The Wildcats started their week against the Pioneers in Olathe, a team they beat on Dec. 3 in a 90-85 thriller. Thursday’s game had no chance of getting close enough for the Wildcats to squeak out a victory, though. Junior Jauan Wilson led Baker with 11 points, three assists and two steals. Junior Connor McDaniel was the only other Wildcat to score in double figures, with 10.

The visiting Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field, but only 2 of 11 from 3-point range and reached the free-throw line a paltry four times. The Pioneers, on the other hand, shot 5 of 12 from beyond the arc and made 24 trips to the stripe, hitting 17.

The Pioneers were equally effective offensively in both halves, outscoring Baker 40-27 in the first 20 minutes and 40-31 in the final period.

Saturday’s matchup against CMU was much closer. The Eagles’ Melvin Tillman put on a show, scoring a game-high 28 points to go with six assists and three steals, while playing the entire 40 minutes.

“We didn’t (contain Melvin Tillman). Credit to him for making some tough shots, but at times we didn’t do as well on him as we needed to,” head coach Sean Dooley said in a post-game press conference. “He’s one of the best we have in this league, and he kind of put them on his back there late, especially in the last 10 minutes.”

Wildcat freshman Javeion Gray was impressive in his own right, scoring 20 points on 10-13 shooting, and led the team with three assists.

“He was good and not so bad defensively either,” Dooley said. “I thought our point guard play was pretty good. I thought Jauan Wilson did a nice job, too. They did a nice job of really pressuring their point, which is what we wanted to do.”

Junior EJ Carter added 15 points and six rebounds, and senior Todd Johnston added 12 points, all coming from the 3-point line.

CMU took a four-point halftime lead, and from there, went on a 15-9 run to take a double-digit lead for the first time in the game.

Baker once again made more than half of its field goal attempts, this time hitting 54.2 percent BU allowed the Eagles to shoot 53.5 percent, though, including 9-16 on 3-point attempts.

With the two losses, Baker drops to 8-14 overall and 2-9 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play. The Wildcats’ 2-9 conference record has them tied with Avila University for last place in the HAAC. Baker will look to bounce back against the Graceland University Yellowjackets at 4 p.m. Saturday in Collins Center.

“We have five days to get ready for Graceland, another team that scores a lot, and if we don’t do a better job, the results won’t change,” Dooley said.