Men’s basketball falls to Benedictine

Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

The Baker men’s basketball team had another impressive showing against a ranked opponent Saturday but fell victim to a last-second shot and lost to No. 23 Benedictine College 66-64.

With a 64-62 lead, the Wildcats were primed to upset the Ravens similar to the Nov. 19 game when BU took down then No. 3 ranked William Penn, but Benedictine’s Andre Yates scored two consecutive baskets, including the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left.

The game remained close throughout, as a back-and-forth first half saw eight lead changes and four ties, with no team able to extend a lead beyond six points.

Senior Tyrome Parker had a four-point play that broke a late 25-25 tie in the first half, but the Ravens used an 8-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 33-29 lead into the break.

Parker and senior Javeion Gray each had seven for the Wildcats in the first half, with Parker hitting two 3-pointers.

Benedictine had a hot-shooting first half, going 52.7 percent from the field, but the Wildcats kept the Ravens’ score in check by holding them to zero offensive rebounds. The Ravens were also 6-of-11 beyond the arc in the half, with Thomas O’Connor’s three 3-pointers leading the long-range effort.

Benedictine had the largest lead of the game with 14:10 left in the second half, but the Wildcats quickly broke into it with a 6-0 run, which was started by a Vandy Hopson dunk. The freshman Hopson was one of two Wildcats to score in double digits with 14, with eight of those points coming from free throws.

Fresh off of eclipsing 1,000 career points, Gray led the Wildcats in points, rebounds and assists, going 19-4-3 for the game. He shot 6-of-8 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

The last 9:12 of action saw eight lead changes and seven ties, and 12 of the final 14 points by Benedictine in that timeframe were scored by Yates, who finished as the game’s high scorer with 22 points. Gray also showed his late-game heroics, scoring seven points for the Wildcats down the stretch.

The 64 points was a season-low output for the Wildcats, even as they shot above their season average at 46.7 percent. The difference came from the three-point line, where they are one of the top 20 teams in the NAIA. They shot just 6-of-19 from deep and had a season-low of 45 field goal attempts.

At 3-5 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, the Wildcats sit at 10th place in the conference standings, and the two-game losing streak puts them back below .500 at 5-6 overall.

The Wildcats will next take on McPherson College in a non-conference game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31 at the Collins Center. The Bulldogs, who play out of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, are 6-6 on the season.