LEBANON — McKendree University's weaknesses were exposed again Thursday night.
Lewis University capitalized on the Bearcats' lack of depth and undersized lineup and rolled to an 82-61 victory in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game watched by 522 fans.
The sophomore trifecta of Ryan Jackson (17 points, seven rebounds), Julian Lewis (16 points, six rebounds) and Jeff Jarosz (13 points) did most of the damage for Lewis, which improved to 9-4 overall and 3-2 in the GLVC.
"Fatigue's a big factor," said McKendree coach Harry Statham, whose team lost for just the second time in nine home games and fell to 7-8 and 1-4. "They were deep and pretty athletic, and it was a physical game. I think our kids were worn down physically.
"We played them well for a half. Then probably about eight or 10 minutes of the second half, we were pretty good. But we just couldn't handle them."
Lewis shot 61 percent from the field (33-for-54), outscored the Bearcats 46-18 in the paint and outrebounded them 33-22. The Flyers' bench outscored McKendree 20-1.
"We just shot the ball," Lewis coach Scott Trost said. "We're 9-4, but there were five games in a row where we shot under 40 percent. It's a fine line. If you shoot the ball well, things look a lot better."
Junior Clinton Happe led all scorers with 22 points and four 3-pointers for the Bearcats, while senior John Steppe had 14 points and sophomore Mike DiGregorio had 13. Freshman Matt Murphy, of Jerseyville, had just five points on 2-for-11 shooting.
The Bearcats led 47-43 when Happe hit a 3 with 17:34 to play in the game, but Lewis pulled away by scoring 22 of the next 29 points. McKendree scored four points in the final 9:22.
McKendree made seven 3-pointers on 15 attempts, recorded 11 assists and shot 56 percent in the first half (14-for-25), but led just 38-37 after holding a nine-point advantage (24-15) on DiGregorio's 3 at the 9:53 mark.
Trost said Lewis' zone improved in the second half when the Bearcats were 8-for-23 from the field and 3-for-13 on 3s.
"I thought the zone was really effective for us," Trost said. "It kind of took them out of their rhythm and made their shooters kind of stand still a little bit. That made them easier to guard for us."
Statham preferred playing against the zone.
"There's no doubt about it: If the ball's not going in, you're not nearly as good," Statham said. "We like to see zones; I think that's our favorite defense, to play against zones. But it wasn't dropping tonight."
Lewis 69, McKendree 55
The Flyers' 18-4 run during a 7 1/2-minute span in the second half settled the issue.
Lewis' uprising, highlighted by a three-point play by sophomore Jess Reinhart, followed a basket by senior Leann Voss, of Breese, that had whittled McKendree's deficit to 41-37.
The Flyers (11-2, 4-1) expanded their lead to 68-46 with 2:29 left. Lewis seniors Labrenthia Murdock and Sam Rinehart led all scorers with 19 points apiece. Reinhart added 13 points.
Senior Shelby Woelful, of Jerseyville, paced McKendree (5-8, 0-5) with 14 points. Sophomore Caty Ponce, of Edwardsville, overcame a first-half knock to the nose and scored 13 points, while junior Brittany Willis and freshman Liz Gilman had 10 points apiece.
Willis, just 5-foot-6, led all players with a career-high 14 rebounds.
McKendree matched a season-high with 24 turnovers and shot 34 percent (21-for-61) from the field. Lewis had 23 turnovers but made them a non-factor by shooting 51 percent (29-for-57).
Lewis led 36-27 at halftime as it canned all five of its 3-point shots. Murdock and junior Alexus Grayer were each 2-for-2 from beyond the stripe. Lewis finished 8-for-16 on 3s.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.