The Baker Orange

Men fall 75-64 in first game of 2015

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The men’s basketball team had its two-game winning streak snapped with a 75-64 loss to the 5-11 McPherson Bulldogs Jan. 3 at the Collins Center. After two games of nearly flawless offensive basketball, the Wildcats struggled to score in the paint or on the perimeter and their record dropped to 7-6 on the season.

The Wildcats started off hot and jumped out of the gates with a 9-4 lead. McPherson then fought back to tie the game at 20-20 with five minutes to play in the first half. The Bulldogs led for the remainder of the half and took a 30-23 halftime advantage. Baker turned the basketball over 10 times in the first half and only forced three turnovers by the Bulldogs.

Baker once again started the second half strong but just could not break the Bulldogs. Baker even capitalized on three steals by senior Jared Fulks early and scored on those breakaways.

Sophomore Tyrome Parker goes up for a layup during the Wildcats’ 75-64 loss to McPherson on Jan. 3 at Collins Center.

Baker cut the lead to one with 10:46 to play when freshman Gregg Easter scored off a McPherson turnover. The teams battled defensively for two possessions as the score remained at 46-45.

The turning point occurred when Baker junior Manny Barnes was called for an over-the-back foul on an offensive rebound. A one-point lead stretched to six in a matter of 15 seconds when McPherson sophomore Deandre Henson hit a three-pointer and then sophomore Chris Crook turned over freshman Brock Mick and scored an easy layup.

Henson sparked the Bulldogs. He shot 4-6 from three and made all four of his free throws. Henson finished with 18 points and seemed to have the basketball in his hands at every crucial moment. Henson was aided by the team’s leading scorer, senior Darius Hill, who scored 15 points, 3 points fewer than his season average of 18.

McPherson led by double digits for most of the game’s final minutes, and a few Baker free throws cut the final deficit to just 11 by the time the final buzzer sounded. McPherson snapped its second five-game losing streak of the season and improved to 5-11 on the season before conference games begin again.

The Wildcats didn’t shoot the basketball too poorly at 45 percent. McPherson only outshot the Wildcats by 1 percent. Both teams made 23 shots from the field. The biggest difference was that 8 of McPherson’s 23 shots were from beyond the arc compared to Baker’s 3 from three-point land. The Wildcats finished 3-17 on trifectas and the Bulldogs were over 50 percent with 8-15.

Sophomore Javeion Gray tied a career high in points with 24. Gray shot 7-11 from the field and was 10-12 on free throws. Gray also finished with a team high 3 assists and tied for the team lead with 5 rebounds.

Senior EJ Carter was the only other Wildcat in double digits with 10 points. Carter was 4-11 from the field and 0-3 from three. Carter and Gray are the only two Wildcats averaging double figures on the season.

Easter scored a career high 17 points against McPherson in the team’s first meeting in November but only scored 8 in Saturday’s game with a late three.

Fulks finished with 7 points after opening up the game with a three, and junior Nick Wilson scored 6 points after starting with two buckets in the first four minutes. After scoring 17 points against Haskell, sophomore Tyrome Parker went 1-6 from the field and only scored 4 points.

The Wildcats, who have a 1-2 conference record, will continue with conference play Jan. 8 in the Collins Center against the Benedictine College Ravens. Last season Baker lost all three games against the conference champion Ravens including a loss in the first round of the conference tournament. Benedictine comes into the game 12-3 but only 1-2 in the conference after losses to Peru State and Central Methodist University.

The Wildcats then turn around Saturday and travel to Canton, Missouri, to take on the Culver-Stockton Wildcats. Culver-Stockton enters the week at 6-7 and 1-1 in HAAC play. Culver’s fast paced, high intensity offense defeated the Wildcats in both tries last season by an average deficit of 4.5 points per game.

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