Mataika KoyamainavureIn their second consecutive road contest to begin the season, the young Southwestern men’s basketball team traveled to play the North Central Missouri Pirates, taking steps toward consistency, yet coming up on the short end of a 60-56 final. Southwestern weathered an early 9-3 deficit and narrowed the gap on big plays by Mataika Koyamainavure (pictured) in the post and Elliott Hamdeed from the arc.

Defensively, Koyamainavure was strong on the boards, and Larry Mason helped control the pace for the Spartan’s offense, keeping the game where they wanted it despite trailing at half, 26-22.  In the second half, the game went back and forth and saw the Spartans tie the score multiple times thanks to key baskets by Mason and a hustle rebound and putback from Tanner Kellogg

On a key play late in the game, with the Spartans down one, a Pirate three-pointer missed, but Dylan Tucker was tagged for a foul, giving North Central three of their 31 free throw attempts, compared to six on the evening for Southwestern. The Spartans kept fighting, and narrowed the gap back to one again with 48 seconds to play. After a nice defensive series, Southwestern failed to secure the defensive rebound and were forced to foul with 20 seconds left. The Pirates hit both, and a quick two from Jared Theis missed in the next possession. Having fouled again and trailing by five, Matt Orchard connected on a three with four seconds remaining to cut the lead to 58-56, but again North Central Missouri hit free throws to ice the game.

Southwestern will now look forward to getting on their home floor Wednesday, November 13, against William Penn. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.