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Men’s basketball bounces back with two wins

Junior+Nathan+Guscott+looks+toward+the+basket+as+he+drives+past+a+Culver-Stockton+defender.+Baker+defeated+Culver-Stockton+82-74+on+Feb.+2.+Image+by+Shelby+Stephens.
Junior Nathan Guscott looks toward the basket as he drives past a Culver-Stockton defender. Baker defeated Culver-Stockton 82-74 on Feb. 2. Image by Shelby Stephens.

Junior Nathan Guscott looks toward the basket as he drives past a Culver-Stockton defender. Baker defeated Culver-Stockton 82-74 on Feb. 2. Image by Shelby Stephens.

Junior Nathan Guscott looks toward the basket as he drives past a Culver-Stockton defender. Baker defeated Culver-Stockton 82-74 on Feb. 2. Image by Shelby Stephens.

Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

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The Baker men’s basketball team bounced back from two straight losses with two victories on Thursday and Saturday.

The Wildcats took on a struggling Culver-Stockton College Thursday, winning 82-74. Two players had season-high scoring outputs in the game, with Dan Young leading the team with 18, and Taylor Johnson adding 16. Javeion Gray was the other Wildcat to score in double figures with 12.

The Wildcats took advantage of their offensive rebounds, capturing a 14-4 edge in second-chance points. Baker also got help from the bench, scoring 30 bench points compared to Culver-Stockton’s five.

The Baker offense took a while to get into a rhythm, shooting just 39 percent in the first half. At one point in the first half, the Wildcats trailed by eight points to CSC before scoring 23 points in the latter portion of the half to take a 35-30 lead.

Both offenses thrived in the second half, as Baker was never able to pull away from Culver-Stockton. The Wildcats held onto the lead with a strong performance from the free-throw line, making 12-15 in the final 3:25 of the game.

Gray was the only Wildcat to score in double digits in both games, as he added another 14 in Saturday’s 75-74 win over Mount Mercy University. Nate Guscott provided late-game heroics for the Wildcats with Baker trailing by one in the final moments, hitting a game-winning shot with two seconds left.

Tyree Peter came up huge for the Wildcats on Saturday after being limited to five minutes of playing time Thursday. He led the Wildcats with 18 points and 8 rebounds, with 14 of those points coming in the first half.

Despite the big effort from Peter, the Wildcats were unable to stop the Mustang offense in the first half. Mount Mercy shot 59 percent en route to a 42-40 halftime lead. Baker also suffered from a drought beyond the arc, going just 1-13 on 3-point attempts in the first half.

After trading baskets to start the second half to make it a 49-49 tie, the Mustangs went on a 13-4 run, as the offense for Baker continued to struggle.

The Wildcats chipped away at the Mount Mercy lead for the final 9:08 of the game, finally claiming a 73-72 lead with 1:21 remaining. The Mustangs were able to make two free-throws to make the score 74-73 with just 10 seconds left, before Guscott raced down the court to win the game for the Wildcats.

At 13-11 on the seaon, the Wildcats will look to make it three wins in a row against Evangel University at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Springfield, Missouri. The Wildcats narrowly pulled out a one-point victory over the 9-15 Crusaders in their last meeting on Jan. 4.

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