LEBANON — It was another win and another double-double for senior guard John Steppe as the McKendree University men's basketball team rolled to a 77-53 victory Tuesday at home against Robert Morris University-Springfield.
Steppe notched his third consecutive double-double -- and fourth in the last five games -- with game-high totals of 22 points and 11 rebounds as McKendree collected its sixth straight win. The Bearcats improve to 6-3 overall and will close out the non-conference portion of its schedule on Saturday with a road contest at Trevecca Nazarene University. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn.
Freshman forward Matt Murphy (Jerseyville) and junior guard Clinton Happeeach connected for 17 points in the win for McKendree. Murphy, along with freshman guard A.J. Schmidt, had four steals for the Bearcats. Schmidt also dished out a season-high seven assists for McKendree.
Robert Morris-Springfield (3-5) jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes of play before the Bearcats ripped off eight consecutive points to pull within 11-10. Happe started the burst with a three-pointer before Steppe scored on a driving lay-up. Happe closed out the run with another trifecta at the 14:05 mark.
The visiting Eagles stretched their advantage back to four points before McKendree took control. The Bearcats used a 16-2 run over a five-minute span to grab a 27-17 lead with 5:30 remaining in the period. Murphy scored the first seven points of the run and added a pair of steals during the decisive run.
McKendree held a 39-24 lead at the half, and quickly increased the margin to 20 points in the early stages of the second half. Robert Morris-Springfield chipped away at the deficit and came as close as 12 points. But the Bearcats scored the final 12 points of the night, holding the Eagles scoreless over the final 5:18 of play.
The Bearcats forced 23 turnovers by Robert Morris-Springfield while collecting a season-high 15 steals. McKendree scored 33 points off turnovers in the victory.
Will Brooks led Robert Morris-Springfield with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Softley added 13 points in the effort for the Eagles.
McKendree has now won all three meetings with Robert Morris-Springfield. The Bearcats swept a two-game series last season, which included an 87-51 win at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center on Feb. 10, 2012.