ROMEOVILLE — The McKendree University men's basketball team dropped its fifth consecutive contest with an 84-73 loss Saturday afternoon at No. 23-ranked Lewis University.
The loss eliminates the Bearcats from the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament race. McKendree slips to 9-16 overall and 3-14 in the GLVC. The Bearcats will wrap up the 2013-14 season Thursday at the University of Illinois Springfield. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Junior guard Mike DiGregorio scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to pace McKendree. Junior forward Logan Carson had a big first half for the Bearcats, scoring 16 of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes of play, while senior forward Will Kirksey chipped in with 16 points and five rebounds. Junior forward Arthur Williams came off the bench to post 13 points and a team-leading seven rebounds for the Bearcats. Making his first start of the season, junior guard Mike Springs dished out a team-leading five assists.
McKendree hit its first four shots from the field in jumping out to a 9-4 lead. The Bearcats eventually stretched their advantage to 20-13 on a three-pointer by Carson with 12:01 left in the first half. Lewis (21-4, 13-4 GLVC) then scored 10 of the next 13 points to tie the game at 23-23 at the 8:12 mark. The teams traded baskets before Carson scored five straight points on a three-pointer and a tip-in to help McKendree regain the lead at 30-25.
After the final media time out of the half saw McKendree out in front at 32-29, Lewis embarked on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good at 36-32 with 2:25 remaining in the period. The Bearcats eventually clawed to within 38-37 on the fourth three-pointer of the half by Carson with 1:09 on the clock. The Flyers scored on their next trip down the floor and took a 40-37 lead at the intermission.
Lewis looked to take control early in the second half and stretched its lead to 50-44 before McKendree roared back with five consecutive points. A lay-up from Kirksey and a three-pointer by DiGregorio helped trim the deficit to 50-49 with 15:55 to play. That was as close as the Bearcats would get the rest of the way as Lewis shot nearly 58 percent from the floor in the second half and pulled away for the victory.
Ryan Jackson led Lewis with a game-high 24 points, while Julian Lewis contributed a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Brad Foster came off the bench to add 12 points and five rebounds for the Flyers.
In a game played before the men tipped off, the McKendree women's squad dropped a 75-63 decision to Lewis.