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Facing a team that had knocked off three Division I teams in the early going of the season, Southwestern could not conjure enough offense to stay with Central Nebraska on the road Tuesday night, dropping the contest 81-55. A cold start from the floor overshadowed a nice defensive effort early on for Southwestern. The Raiders were primarily scoring on transition off turnovers or offensive putbacks on rebounds. The Spartans made an uncharacteristic 11 turnovers in the half, which is around their game average.
In the second half, Southwestern controlled defensive rebounds better and took care of the ball, and looked much more efficient in their offensive attacks. The damage had been done, however, and the lead was too great to overcome at that stage. Southwestern got a nice game from Larry Mason, who made some strong basket attacks and was turnover free for the game. Matt Orchard, moving well without the ball, benefitted from several good cuts and finishes to the basket as well. Nikola Drobnjak had his best minutes of the year for the Spartans off the bench.
Southwestern will next host Southeast Nebraska at home Saturday, November 30. Tip is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Southwestern used a defensive half in which they allowed talented North Central Missouri only 20 points to propel themselves to a fourth straight win Wednesday, November 20, 57-52. The Spartans charged out of the gate 10-2 on basket attacks and assists from Elliott Hamdeed and Matt Orchard. The game then dramatically changed as the Pirates got some long rebounds and steals for transition baskets. North Central Missouri also pounded the offensive boards for 13 offensive rebounds in the first half. The Pirates took a 32-26 advantage into the locker room at the half.
Then the Spartan's defense became more active, and Southwestern was able to keep North Central quiet for most of the second half, supported by Jared Theis on the defensive boards. Southwestern finally managed to take the lead with six minutes to play on a post feed to Mataika Koyamainavure, 49-48. As the Spartans clung to their lead, the key moment occurred late in the contest when North Central made a three-point goal to cut the lead to 54-50 and Orchard was fouled while blocking out. The Pirates bench then picked up a technical foul. Orchard made three of four free throws to up the margin back to seven with time ticking away.
The win gives Southwestern four consecutive wins and moves them to 4-2 on the season. They next play Central Nebraska Tuesday in Columbus. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Southwestern battled through rebounding difficulties to capture its third straight victory, 74-67, over visiting Graceland Monday night. The Spartans got off to a slow start, trailing early 7-2. They began closing the gap off post feeds to Mataika Koyamainavure and from basket attacks by Elliott Hamdeed. By half, the Spartans held a slim 34-32 lead.
Southwestern tried a pull-away early in the second half, leading 41-32 early, but the Yellow Jackets clawed right back into the contest, cutting the margin to 45-41 with 13 minutes to play. Both teams then went on matching offensive runs, the Spartans being sparked by several offensive rebounds and put-backs from Tanner Kellogg. Holding a slim four-point advantage, Southwestern got key free throws down the stretch from Koyamainavure, Matt Orchard, and Jared Theis to put the game away.
In a game of spurts, Southwestern grabbed its second straight victory on the road in Orange City, 69-63. After jumping to a 9-0 lead with a Larry Mason three-point goal, Southwestern watched Northwestern get back into the game quickly on two of their seven three pointers they would hit on the game. The Raiders took an 18-14 lead, but the Spartans steadied things on two back-cuts by Elliott Hamdeed and assists from Jared Theis.
By half, Northwestern held a 28-27 lead. Southwestern got control early in the second half on inside play from Mataika Koyamainavure and Tanner Kellogg. Leading by 12 with 11 minutes to play, the Spartans again had to endure a Raider spurt that concluded with another one-point lead for the hosts, 49-48, with five minutes to play. Nick Lenhard (pictured) then made two passing-lane interceptions which both led to Spartan scores and a two-possession lead with just over three minutes. Down the stretch, key free throws from Matt Orchard helped to secure the win for the Spartans on the road.
Southwestern next plays Monday, November 18, against Graceland as part of a double header with the women's basketball teams. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.