The Baker Orange

Men’s basketball loses seventh straight

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The men’s basketball team dropped its seventh straight game on Saturday, losing on the road to the Missouri Valley Vikings 69-60. This loss drops the ‘Cats to 7-12 overall and to last place at 1-8 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Before the loss to Missouri Valley, the Wildcats started the week hosting the Peru State College Bobcats in the Collins Center, and lost 70-64. This game showed similar patterns to what the team has done throughout conference play; the Wildcats fell behind by 5-10 points early and stay within 5-10 for the entire game.

With Peru State shooting 43 percent from the field it would be a rigorous task to stay with the Bobcats and junior Corday Sims, who was averaging nearly 20 points per game.

Sims finished with 28 points on 8-13 from the field, 3-6 from three and 7-9 at the stripe. Peru State’s largest lead was 10, and the Wildcats could not overcome the deficit and the Bobcats finished their victory at the free-throw line.

Senior EJ Carter missed both games last week against Avila and Evangel but came back with an impressive performance on Thursday, leading Baker with 18 points. Senior Jared Fulks started a good scoring week with a 12-point performance as well. Baker finished at 39 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.

Sophomore Javeion Gray played all 40 minutes and scored 11 points while dishing out 8 assists. Gray would miss Saturday’s game after having eye surgery on Friday.

Sophomore Tyrome Parker was averaging 22 points per game in his last three coming into Thursday’s game and went down with a knee injury in the first three minutes Thursday, taking him out of play for both Thursday and Saturday’s game.

Without Gray or Parker, the Wildcats would rely heavily on four freshmen in Saturday’s game at Missouri Valley: Young, Brock Mick, Nathan Guscott, and Gregg Easter.

The story was the same for the Wildcats, as they were down by 5-10 early and then they just couldn’t break the margin throughout the rest of the game. The Wildcats trailed 36-26 at the break but shot 53 percent from the field in the first. Their Achilles heel was the turnovers, as they had 12 turnovers compared to Valley’s 2.

Junior Nick Wilson scored 9 points early to keep Baker within striking distance of the Vikings’ fast-paced offense and defense. Wilson only scored 2 points in Thursday’s game and would not score after halftime on Saturday.

Easter and Guscott switched off at the point guard spot, and the two combined for nearly 64 minutes of floor time. Easter finished 7-16 from the field and scored 14 points with 3 assists and Guscott scored a conference-high 8 points.

Young finished with 4 points and fouled out of the game, and Mick did not score but provided 11 quality minutes at the guard spot.

Fulks kept his scoring roll from Thursday night as he finished with 11 points and was 4-5 at the line. Carter scored 8 points on a 3-9 night from the field.

Baker was within 12 for nearly the whole second half, but the Wildcats just could not break the Vikings offensively or defensively enough to truly cut into the lead.

One performance to note: Guscott’s defensive assignment was Valley’s senior Brad Hamilton, who averages over 13 points per game. Guscott held Hamilton to 5 points on the night on 1-5 from the field. This was one of the reasons that Baker stayed in the game.

If not for the Wildcats’ 23 turnovers, they might have had a chance with how well they shot the ball. Baker finished at 47 percent shooting but just 18 percent from three.

Baker’s losing streak continues into the back half of the conference slate. The Wildcats have played every HAAC opponent and turn the schedule over on Thursday against the 4-14, 3-6 MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers at 7:30 p.m. in the Collins Center.

Baker looks to redeem a 79-61 loss on Dec. 4 in Olathe. The Wildcats then play the 13-6, 5-4 Central Methodist University Eagles at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Fayette, Missouri.

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