The McKendree Bearcats came up just short of collecting their first Great Lakes Valley Conference victory of the season, falling 75-71 on Saturday to University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Saturday afternoon at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center in Lebanon.
The Bearcats trailed by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but fought back and pulled to within one possession three different times in the final minute of play. But the visiting Rangers -- who entered the day as the only team with an undefeated record in GLVC play -- hit four free throws over the final 36.7 seconds to hold on for the victory.
Senior guard Clinton Happe scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half to lead the way for McKendree (6-7, 0-5 GLVC). Happe also added a season-best six rebounds against Wisconsin-Parkside. Junior guard Mike DiGregorio also had a big second half for the Bearcats, netting 15 of his 17 points in the final half.
Junior forward Matt Holmes also hit the double-digit mark in the scoring column with 10 points, while junior forward Arthur Williams hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds for McKendree, which held a 41-33 edge on the boards in the contest.
After leading 39-27 at the half, Wisconsin-Parkside (13-2, 6-0 GLVC) scored on its first possession of the second half to take its largest lead of the day at 41-27. The Bearcats chipped away at the deficit midway through the half and used a 9-0 run to pull within 57-54 with 9:29 remaining.
The Rangers appeared to be pulling away once again after Jordan Mach hit a three-pointer with 2:54 on the clock to stretch the UWP advantage to 68-59. McKendree battled back once again, and DiGregorio made two free throws to cut the deficit to 71-66 with 47 seconds left. Happe then stole the inbounds pass and scored seconds later to help the Bearcats rally within 71-68. After the teams traded free throws, DiGregorio scored on a driving lay-up with 18.7 seconds on the clock to bring McKendree within 73-71.
Andy Mazurczak sealed the win for Wisconsin-Parkside after he was fouled and hit a pair of foul shots with 8.7 seconds to play, giving the Rangers a four-point lead.
UW-Parkside 61, McKendree 54
In Lebanon, the Bearcats came up short against University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Senior guard Brittany Willis led McKendree (6-8, 1-5 GLVC) with 18 points, while freshman forward Emily Pusheck and junior guard Caty Ponce, an Edwardsville High School gradute, scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. Freshman Amber Alexander narrowly missed out on the double-double with eight points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
The game was close throughout, with UW-Parkside leading 29-28 at the half, only to have McKendree surge out to a 39-34 advantage early in the second half.
The Rangers took the lead for good at 51-50 with under four minutes remaining.
UW-Parkside closed out the win by going 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.
The Rangers' Gaby Bronson led all scorers with 20 points.