Spartans encounter cold spell late in second half, go 0-2 in JCU tournament

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James Hale

Senior Alex Hildebrandt dribbles through traffic. Hildebrandt had two steals against Bethany last week.

Kate Clancy, Staff Reporter

After earning a high preseason ranking and taking a win in their season opener, the men’s varsity basketball has hit a rough patch, dropping the five games following their season opener. This weekend, the Spartans entered the John Steadman Classic hosted by nearby John Carroll University tournament with a record of 1-3, the team’s two losses brought them to 1-5 overall. The Spartans took on Olivet College on Saturday night and after the tough 89-69 loss, the Spartans had to turn around and play in the tournament consolation game against Bethany College and fell again 81-55. In each of the games, the Spartans had a standout player who scored at least twenty points, but cold spells late in the second half would lead to two Spartan losses.

In the first round of the tournament, the first half progressed as the Spartans and Olivet Comets battled while the score remained even. The Spartans quickly fell to 8-2 in the first minutes of the game, until a 10-2 run clinched by a jumper by Robert Scott put them in the lead 11-10. However, following a pair of free throws by the Comets, the Spartans would trail throughout the remainder of the first half. Olivet would extend its lead to 12 points, but the Spartans would go on a scoring frenzy in the final minutes of the half, clinched with a buzzer beater three-pointer by Senior Reid Anderson, putting the Spartans only one point behind, as they entered the locker room losing 39-38.

The Spartans scored the first basket of the half, but Olivet retaliated with an 8-2 run, from which the Spartans would never recover. Senior Eric Duerr would put the Spartans within two with nine minutes remaining, but Olivet would muscle its way to a twenty point lead by the end of the game, the final score being 89-69.

The Spartans hit six from behind the arc in the first half, but went ice cold in the second half, only hitting one-of-eight. Both Olivet and CWRU would end the game with shooting percentages in the 40% range, but the game-winner for Olivet was the free throw line. CWRU would accumulate 25 personal fouls and send Olivet to the free throw line 21 times, and they hit 35-of-41 total attempts.

Anderson racked up a season-high 29 points and sophomore Austin Fowler would record a double-double by adding 11 points and 10 rebounds, but the Spartans were not able to overcome the Comets lead.

In the first half of the consolation game, the lead would switch back and forth and ended Bethany Bison taking the lead off a layup in the final seconds. It all started as Bethany went on an initial 8-1 run, but the Spartans had an answer for this, and took the lead following a 12-4 run. The score was tied four times in the first half, but the Spartans pulled ahead and stretched their lead by five with a three-pointer by freshman Mike Byrne. The Bison would again retaliate by hitting 11 straight including a layup with less than a minute left.

The Spartans were able to come within two off of a big three-pointer by Fowler with 16 minutes remaining in the game, but the Bison again extended their lead. An additional pair of free throws by Fowler would put him at 20 points for the game, and one of freshman Tim Chung’s four three-pointers for the game would put the Spartans within four with over 8 minutes remaining.

Unfortunately, the Spartans would encounter another cold spell; the Bison defense did not allow another point to be scored, and Bethany College ran away, scoring 22 more points. Five Bethany players would record double-doubles as they defeated the Spartans 81-55. Fowler led the Spartans with 20 points, shooting 75% from the field. Chung added four three-pointers and totaled 15 for the game. Anderson also contributed seven points and seven rebounds and three assists, earning all-tournament recognition.

The Spartans will have some time to recover from this five-game losing streak, as their next game is not until Dec. 6 at Kenyon College. The Spartans will regroup and come off strong to try and live up to those high preseason rankings.