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Having won at home in their conference opener, Southwestern was hoping to extend its good conference fortunes on the road at Clinton Wednesday. When the dust had settled, the Spartans moved to 2-0 in league play with a 70-62 victory. The first half was a back-and-forth battle that saw the Cougars jump to a 5-0 advantage, and several lead changes resulting in a 28-28 halftime deadlock. While not clicking on all cylanders, the Spartans got key baskets from Patrick Wright, Marquealis Edwards, and Devin Kastrup to keep pace.
The winter break can bring different challenges to teams, but Southwestern came out of the gate looking like they had never taken time off with a 75-48 win at Graceland Saturday. The Spartans attacked the zone of the Yellowjackets and jumped to a 35-19 halftime lead. Delby Halcomb (pictured) made impact defensive plays in the half, and Southwestern pounded the ball inside where they had an advantage against the smaller Graceland lineup. Southwestern continued their gameplan in the second half, and Marquealis Edwards racked up seven assists feeding Jack Harrison and Devin Kastrup inside, pacing the Spartans to the margin of victory. The win gives Southwestern momentum going into the second half of the season, and into the teeth of conference play.
The Spartans travel to Clinton Wednesday, January 9 for their second league game of the season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
In a final non-conference contest before break, Southwestern was not efficient enough with the ball to grind out a win against Southeast Nebraska, dropping a 62-58 contest. Southwestern led most of the first half behind solid play in the middle of the press by Patrick Wright, but turnovers hurt the Spartans throughout the contest, leading to run-outs by the Storm, who trailed 31-29 at the half.
The second half went back and forth, with Southwestern getting key contributions from Wright and Devin Kastrup. Trailing 60-58 with under a minute, the Spartans tried a special against the Southeast zone, but a challenged lay-up did not fall, and Southwestern was forced to foul. Southeast made both free throws to put the game out of reach.
The Spartans return to action January 5 at Graceland. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
Southwestern will only play one conference game prior to the winter break—they are off to a good start, capturing an opening-round win against talented Iowa Lakes, 51-43. Southwestern attempted to control the tempo in the game, slowing down Iowa Lakes' transition attack. Key plays from Marquealis Edwards gave the Spartans a 23-16 half-time lead. The lead would deviate from as many as 13 down to two at one stage late in the second half, with Devin Kastrup hitting a big three-point shot midway through the second frame, and Marcus Littleton connecting on a crucial field goal with just under two minutes to play to give the Spartans a seven-point cushion. Down the stretch, free throws from Edwards, Patrick Wright, and Delby Halcomb sealed it for the Spartans.
Southwestern next plays Saturday at home against Southeast Nebraska. Tip-off is 3 p.m.