Bearcats' brief win streak ends

Special to the News-DemocratJanuary 25, 2014 

The McKendree University men's basketball team saw its two-game win streak come to an end Saturday with a 99-91 loss to the University of Indianapolis in Lebanon.

In a game where all five starters scored in double figures for both teams the visiting Greyhounds, ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division II, shot 63.6 percent in the first half but had to hold off a late charge by the Bearcats in a Great Lakes Valley Conference contest.

Both teams shot well from the field as Indianapolis closed the game shooting 57.7 percent (41-of-71), while McKendree made 54.8 percent of its shots from the floor (34-of-62).

Senior forward Will Kirksey led McKendree (8-8, 2-6 GLVC) with 20 points, hitting 8-of-11 shots from the field. Junior guard Mike DiGregorio chipped in with 18 points, including 11 in the second half.

Senior guard Clinton Happe and junior forward Matt Holmes each finished with 14 points, while Holmes pulled down a team-leading nine rebounds. Junior forward Logan Carson also reached double figures in the scoring column for the Bearcats with 12 points.

Junior guard Mike Springs came off the bench to dish out a team-high five assists. Springs has handed out 24 assists in the Bearcats' last three outings.

After holding a 54-42 lead at the half, Indianapolis (15-2, 7-2 GLVC) looked to pull away midway through the second half, building an 84-67 advantage with 8:59 to play. McKendree answered by scoring the next nine points to pull within 84-76 at the six-minute mark.

The Greyhounds were able to push the lead back to double digits before the Bearcats made one final run. A driving lay-up by DiGregorio with 2:08 on the clock capped a 10-2 spurt that brought McKendree back within 92-86.

Indianapolis' Joe Lawson scored on a putback following a three-point miss on the Greyhounds' next possession to stretch the lead back to eight points. Following a McKendree turnover, Leland Brown scored at the 1:34 mark to help Indianapolis regain a double-digit lead at 97-86.

The closest the Bearcats came the remainder of the contest came when Carson stole a pass at midcourt, converted a dunk and was fouled with 18.7 seconds left. His free throw trimmed the deficit to eight.

In the first half, Indianapolis controlled the tempo in the opening moments before an 8-0 run gave McKendree its only lead of the night at 22-21 with 10:29 left in the period. Kirksey scored half of the Bearcats' points during the spurt, including the lay-up that pushed McKendree to the lead. The Greyhounds answered by netting the next six points to regain the lead for good.

Lawson led Indianapolis with 21 points and eight rebounds. Brown finished with 18 points and a game-high seven assists.

McKendree held a 39-24 edge in rebounding against Indianapolis, but the Greyhounds committed just nine turnovers to 20 for the Bearcats. Both teams also established their inside presence as the Greyhounds outscored the Bearcats in the paint by a margin of 65-54.

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