Baker men’s basketball team falls to Friends in home opener

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Baker men’s basketball team falls to Friends in home opener

Story by Kyle Davis

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The Baker men’s basketball team played in front of the home fans in Collins Center for the first time in the 2009-2010 season Tuesday, but lost to Friends University 73-60.

The game was back and forth throughout most of the contest until the Falcons pulled away midway through the second half. A pair of big runs by Friends put the game out of reach.

“It got real physical out there, and they were a little more physical than us,” head coach Rick Weaver said. “It seemed like they made a few threes, we missed a couple shots, and we kind of got a little panicky.”

The Wildcats took a 46-42 lead with a pair of  junior Andre Strozier free throws before Friends went on a 15-0 run to take a double-digit lead.

“We didn’t execute when we needed to, and I thought they did a lot better job of executing down the stretch,” Weaver said.

Baker did not give up after the Falcons’ 15-point run, with Strozier tipping-in a ball, following a junior Austin Bond miss, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 58-53.

However, in case one double-digit run was not enough, Friends proceeded to go on a 13-point run to lead 71-53. Once again the Wildcats fought back, scoring seven of the game’s final nine points.

“I think that it shows a lot of heart that we’re going to be able to fight and scratch no matter what the situation is,” senior Malcolm Greer said. “If you show heart like that, then those close losses will turn into wins.”

While the Falcons soared offensively in the second half, the Wildcats were struggling with turnovers. Baker turned the ball over 19 times, compared to the Falcons’ seven, after both teams only had five turnovers in the first half.

Greer led the team with 17 points and seven rebounds while Strozier recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Falcons hit eight of 22 3-pointers and shot 43 percent from the field in the game. Baker struggled from downtown, hitting 3-15 and shooting 38 percent from the field in the game.

The Wildcats are 1-2 after splitting a pair of games to start the season at the Central Methodist Classic. Baker lost a close battle with the University of St. Mary 66-64 and cruised by Ottawa University 93-66. Baker hosted Bethany College Thursday, but results were not available at presstime.

Strozier said the team is able to learn from these early losses to help the Wildcats later in the season.

“I think this is a good game. It’s a loss, don’t get me wrong, I’d rather win, but we got a good experience out of it,” Strozier said.