ST. LOUIS — The McKendree University men's basketball team tipped off its 2012-13 season Saturday with a 72-52 loss against Tiffin University in the GLVC/GLIAC Crossover Challenge at Maryville University.
Junior guard Clinton Happe netted a team-high 17 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the loss to the Dragons. Senior forward David Ruckman (Freeburg) nearly posted a double-double with 17 points and a team-leading eight rebounds for McKendree.
As a team, the Bearcats committed 32 turnovers, including 20 in the first half. In addition, McKendree shot just 28 percent from the field in the second half (7-of-25).
The contest was tied at 7-7 before Tiffin (1-0) reeled off six consecutive points to pull out to a 13-7 lead with 14:20 left in the first half. The Dragons quickly pushed their advantage to double-digits before a 7-0 run helped Tiffin extend its margin to 29-13. The lead swelled to as many as 24 points - 47-23 - before McKendree scored the final four points of the period to pull within 47-27 at the half.
McKendree slowly chipped away at the deficit for the first part of the second half. Ruckman capped an 11-2 run with a lay-up to bring the Bearcats within 57-45 with 9:30 remaining. Tiffin responded with an 11-2 spurt of its own and regained a 68-47 lead with just under six minutes left.
Mike Boan led Tiffin with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Joe Graessle chipped in with 15 points and game-high totals of five assists and five steals.
McKendree will close out play in the GLVC/GLIAC Crossover Challenge Sunday at 4 p.m. against Ohio Dominican University.