McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham on Thursday night reached another milestone victory.
Statham, in his 50th season at the Division II school, tied former University of Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt for the most wins by any coach at a four-year school with 1,098 as his Bearcats rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half to defeat No. 21 Wisconsin Parkside 92-85.
It was McKendree’s first victory over a ranked foe since it joined the Division II ranks four years ago after competing in the NAIA level.
It doesn’t mean a thing to me right now. We’re in this (Great Lakes Valley) conference race and we need conference wins real badly. We’re trying to get into postseason play, so every one you win, it’s what it is. I’m glad to hear this has happened, but the most important thing to me is to beat a ranked team in our league.
McKendree coach Harry Statham on tying Pat Summitt with 1,098th victory
In typical fashion, Statham downplayed the personal accomplishment.
“It doesn’t mean a thing to me right now,” said Statham, 78. “We’re in this (Great Lakes Valley) conference race and we need conference wins real badly. We’re trying to get into postseason play, so every one you win, it’s what it is. I’m glad to hear this has happened, but the most important thing to me is to beat a ranked team in our league.”
Statham, who is 1,098-474 at McKendree, could surpass Summitt at 3 p.m. Saturday when the Bearcats play host to Lewis. The way Statham looks at it, the record will fall when it’s time.
“It was the last of my thoughts,” Statham said. “I’m not worried about it. If I don’t get it today, I get it tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Those things happen. I’m not into that.”
Statham has met Summitt, 63, on several occasions. Summitt was 1,098-208 with eight NCAA championships at Tennessee. She retired after the 2011-12 season, disclosing that she was battling Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’ve seen her at coaching clinics around the country, Las Vegas and all,” Statham said. “We’ve talked a little bit. She’s a classy lady. She sent me a personal letter after I got 1,000 wins (in November 2009). That was pretty nice of her.”
Statham wished the best for Summitt.
“She’s a nice lady and I hope her health gets better and better for her,” Statham said. “I feel bad (about that).”
I’ve seen her at coaching clinics around the country, Las Vegas and all. We’ve talked a little bit. She’s a classy lady. She sent me a personal letter after I got 1,000 wins (in November 2009). That was pretty nice of her.
Harry Statham on Pat Summitt
David Franklin, a 6-foot-5 junior who graduated from Althoff High, scored a game-high 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for McKendree, while junior Michael Jackson, an O’Fallon High graduate, had 20 points and redshirt freshman Nate Michael also had 20.
The Bearcats (10-8 overall, 3-7 GLVC), who trailed 47-38 with 19:40 to play, outscored Wisconsin-Parkside (15-3, 8-2) 54-40 in the second half. The Rangers had won 11 in a row.
Franklin said he enjoyed the experience of being part of history.
“I haven’t sat down and really thought about it, but right now, I’m playing for somebody in history that has accomplished a lot in our game,” Franklin said. “I know when I get to sit back and think about this, it’s real special. It’s real special tonight, but looking back on it will be crazy.”
McKendree shot 49 percent from the field (32-for-65) and was 19-for-21 from the free-throw line. Franklin was 11-for-11 from the line. The Bearcats committed just nine turnovers.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive for our team,” Franklin said. “That’s my role on the team, to be a scorer, but also be a leader. I think I did that tonight for our team. We just kept grinding it out. I made sure the guys didn’t get down on themselves. We didn’t want to lose. We’ve lost too many close games this year. We wanted to pull this one out.”
Wisconsin-Parkside shot 53 percent (34-for-64), but was just 3-for-21 on 3-pointers. Senior Andy Mazurczak led the Rangers with 25 points, while sophomore Kendale McCullum scored 17 and sophomore Chavares Flanigan came off the bench and had 15.
McKendree 44, Wisconsin-Parkside 43 (women)
Freshman Jordan Morton wasn’t the Bearcats’ first option with the game on the line. She wasn’t even their second option.
But Morton had the ball in her hands with time running out when she sank a running right-hander from 16 feet with 0.2 seconds left to lift McKendree to a thrilling one-point win.
Morton, a 5-10 guard/forward from Olathe, Kan., scored with her opposite hand while being closely guarded just outside the free-throw line.
“It was very surreal. I still kind of feel like it didn’t quite happen,” said Morton, who finished with a team-high 11 points and made all three of her 3-point attempts after being 1-for-9 from beyond the arc this season.
“We knew we had to do something,” she said. “I wasn’t the first option on that play, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to play basketball, and it all worked out for us.”
Senior Kelsee Ennis made two free throws to put the Bearcats ahead 42-41 with 11.3 seconds left. But Wisconsin-Parkside senior Stephanie Furr hit a tough fallaway jumper to put the Rangers on top 43-42 with 2.6 seconds remaining.
The Bearcats called a timeout, and by rule, were allowed to advance the ball past midcourt. Ennis was option No. 1 from outside the 3-point line. Option No. 2 was junior Ellie Pusheck in the post. Both players, however, were covered, so junior Amber Alexander inbounded the ball to Morton, who took a dribble and hit the floater.
“I think I just said, ‘Oh, my gosh! Did that really just happen? Did I get it off? Is it going to count?’ Morton said. “I think it just shows the heart this team has. We come out here and compete and give everything we have every second we’re on the floor.”
After Morton’s shot, officials viewed a replay at the scorer’s table and put 0.2 seconds on the clock. The Rangers’ ensuing inbounds pass, however, was deflected away by Alexander to preserve the third consecutive victory for the Bearcats (10-10, 5-5).
Ennis, senior Kacey Johnson and Pusheck scored eight points apiece. Junior Shannon McGinnis grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds. Furr led all scorers with 14 points for the Rangers (11-7, 5-5), while senior Rani Singh had 11 points.
Wisconsin-Parkside was unable to preserve its 39-32 lead with 4:07 to play. Morton’s 3-pointer from the left wing made it 39-35 and began the Bearcats’ 12-4 run to finish the game.
“This team is just resilient,” first-year McKendree coach Kari Kerkhoff said. “They always are believing they’re capable of winning a game, and they’re so scrappy. We never seemed to panic the entire way. That’s just them.
“We’re starting to come around a little bit. All it takes is one more point than the other team.”