DiGregorio sets free-throw record as McKendree rallies past Missouri SandT

News-DemocratFebruary 8, 2014 

— Junior Mike DiGregorio's record-breaking performance got McKendree University over the hump Saturday.

DiGregorio, a 6-foot-1 guard, went 21-for-22 from the free-throw line to highlight a 30-point outburst as the Bearcats downed Missouri S&T 106-99 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.

DiGregorio's 21 free throws broke the former mark for most made in one game. Jay Sodini was 17-for-24 during the 1982-83 season.

"It's pretty cool to be recognized for that," DiGregorio said. "That comes from all the practice and hard work. Coach (Harry Statham) makes us shoot so many during practice. I was just thinking about keeping my mechanics right and following through.

"Going to the line, I expect to make every single one. But I didn't think I was going to go there 22 times. We got in the bonus really early. They're a team that likes to pressure and is a little erratic, so you're going to get bumped and fouled. And when you're in the bonus, that equates to free throws."

The Bearcats, who snapped a four-game losing skid, improved to 9-11 overall and 3-9 in the GLVC. They scored 66 second-half points.

Senior Clinton Happe scored 27 points, made four 3-pointers and was 9-for-9 on free throws. Junior Matt Holmes had 15 points and 10 rebounds and junior Logan Carson chipped in with 14, while junior Mike Springs came off the bench and had a game-high nine assists.

McKendree was 44-for-51 from the free-throw, including 34-for-39 in the second half as Missouri S&T fouled repeatedly in an attempt to overcome its deficit. The Miners (9-12, 4-9) were charged with 33 fouls, compared to 16 by the Bearcats.

"I have no problem with the numbers because that's reflective of McKendree going to the rim," Missouri S&T coach Jim Glash said. "This was about who went to the rim harder.

"This was a hard-fought game. We had an awful first four minutes of the second half. We deserve to go home with an 'L.' This was McKendree's day."

Missouri S&T led 47-40 at halftime, but McKendree used a 16-7 outburst to take a 56-54 lead, with Happe's 3-pointer culminating the run. The Miners tied it at 56, but Happe hit three free throws to make it 59-56 with 16:19 left.

The Miners never led again.

Statham was proud of the way the Bearcats shot free throws.

"We spend time on them," he said. "Our goal was to shoot 80 percent as a team. We're not there yet. Tonight, we needed all of them."

McKendree is 247-for-332 from the line this season (74 percent).

Statham said the Bearcats still believe they can make the GLVC Tournament. Of the 12 teams in the league, eight qualify for the postseason. McKendree has six games remaining, five of them on the road.

"If we can get the next two (at William Jewell and Rockhurst), we're on our way," Statham said. "If we can win four, I think we're in the tournament. That's our goal."

McKendree shot 46 percent from the field (27-for-59)

Senior Bryce Foster led Missouri S&T with 27 points. Freshman Aaron Emmanuel had 23 and senior Mudiaga Eruteya had 20.

Women's basketball

Missouri S&T 77, McKendree 74

Junior Caty Ponce, of Edwardsville, had 25 points and five 3-pointers and senior Brittany Willis scored her 1,000th career point, but it wasn't enough as the Bearcats fell to the Miners.

It was the fifth consecutive defeat for the Bearcats, who tumbled to 7-13 overall and 2-10 in the GLVC. The Bearcats are 0-6 all-time against Missouri S&T (8-13, 4-9).

Willis, a graduate of Parkway North High School in St. Louis, hit a baseline jumper from the left side with 14:33 to play in the first half, as she became the 14th member of the 1,000-point club. Willis finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior Karli Sample led all scorers with 32 points on 13-for-18 shooting and senior Kylie Cooper added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Miners, who shot 49 percent (32-for-65).

Ponce moved into 11th place on the Bearcats' career scoring list, surpassing assistant coach Stephanie Sparks.

McKendree, which trailed 39-33 at halftime, was 20-for-21 from the free-throw line, but just 23-for-59 from the field (39 percent). The Bearcats were 8-for-18 on 3s.

After trailing 55-46 with 13:42 left, the Bearcats went on a 17-2 run to take a 63-57 lead with 7:46 to play. Sample's jumper in the paint put the Miners on top 64-63 with at the 6:02 mark.

McKendree trailed 75-74 when Willis drove through the lane for a potential layup. But Sample blocked Willis' shot with 17 seconds remaining, and Cooper's two free throws made it 77-74. An off-balanced 3-pointer by Ponce was short in the final seconds.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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