Missouri-St. Louis kept McKendree and coach Harry Statham in a holding pattern Thursday.
McKendree rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the second half, but a controversial turnover in the waning seconds stemmed the momentum and helped the Tritons post an 86-82 victory in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at the Mark Twain Building.
The Bearcats’ loss kept Statham at 1,098 victories, which are tied with former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt for the most of any college basketball coach at a four-year school. McKendree will play at Maryville at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“I don’t have any thoughts. We’ve got to go try to win a ballgame. That’s all,” Statham said of his next opportunity for the record. “It’s a conference game and we’re going to try to win it.
“There’s never an easy loss. They’re all tough.”
The Bearcats (10-10 overall, 3-9 GLVC) trailed 73-66 with 7:41 to play, but cut the gap to 82-80 on junior David Franklin’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining.
I thought I was under that five seconds and I thought I called timeout in time, but evidently, I didn’t. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s a mental mistake that you can’t make in those situations, but we’ll learn from it and be ready Saturday.
McKendree freshman Nate Michael on five-second violation on inbounds play
Senior Brandon Marquardt then rushed in and stole a rebound from McKendree and scored underneath to put the Tritons (9-12, 3-9) ahead 84-80 with 23 seconds left.
Freshman Nate Michael scored in the lane for the Bearcats while being fouled, but he missed the free throw to keep McKendree’s deficit 84-82 with 18.4 seconds to play.
UMSL junior Hunter Reine, a 6-foot-9 graduate of Roxana High, missed a one-and-one opportunity from the line, and McKendree called a timeout with 11.2 seconds left.
After a timeout, Michael was attempting to inbound the ball at the end of the McKendree bench, but was called for a five-second violation before he signaled for a timeout. UMSL senior Tre Ogles then made two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to seal the outcome.
Michael thought the whistle came too fast.
“I’ve always been taught when you’re taking the ball out to have a little stopwatch in your head,” Michael said. “I thought I was under that five seconds and I thought I called timeout in time, but evidently, I didn’t. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s a mental mistake that you can’t make in those situations, but we’ll learn from it and be ready Saturday.”
Statham had no comment about the call on Michael.
Franklin, an Althoff High graduate, led McKendree with 21 points and eight rebounds, while junior Darin Winkelman scored 19 points and made six 3-pointers. Michael finished with 18 points and junior Michael Jackson, an O’Fallon High graduate, had 17 points.
Reine had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Ogles scored 16 points off the bench. Marquardt (14 points) and freshman Joshua Webster (12 points) also reached double figures.
McKendree was just 16-for-25 from the free-throw line, was outrebounded 40-28 and outscored in the paint 40-26. The Tritons shot 57 percent (35-for-62).
The Bearcats shot 47 percent (28-for-60) and were 10-for-23 on 3-pointers.
UMSL coach Bob Sundvold is confident Statham will get the wins record soon, but he had no desire to see it happen on the Tritons’ home floor.
“He’s got five home games at the end of the year,” Sundvold said. “I’m hoping he can get one of those. I told our team: ‘I don’t want to be that guy that’s on ESPN shaking the hand.’ ... Harry is special. He’s special for the game. Let him go to Maryville or somewhere else and get it.”
Michael said the players are looking forward to getting the record for Statham.
“We’ve been talking about it a lot as a team,” Michael said. “I know Coach doesn’t like talking about it, but we’ve been talking that we need to get it for him. Tonight, we had an opportunity. We had our chances, but we just didn’t make enough plays.”
UMSL led 47-46 after a frenetic first half in which the teams combined to shoot 55 percent from the field (36-for-65), including 52 percent from beyond the arc (11-for-21).
Winkelman hit four straight 3-pointers in a span of 2:41 as McKendree, which trailed 22-10 less than four minutes into the game, pulled into a 32-all tie with 6:53 left in the first half.
The Bearcats were within one point four times in the final 3:55 of the half.
UMSL 56, McKendree 40 (women)
The Bearcats converted just one basket in the final 18 minutes as the Tritons pulled away for an easy victory.
UMSL (8-12, 3-9) ended its five-game losing streak, while McKendree (10-12, 5-7) dropped its second straight following a three-game winning streak.
McKendree senior Ashley Klass made a 3-pointer with 8:01 to play in the third quarter, trimming what had been a 33-25 deficit to 33-32.
But the Bearcats scored just one more basket, a layup by freshman Jordan Morton with 13 seconds to play in the game. By then, UMSL was comfortable in control.
Junior Sydney Bloch came off the bench for the Tritons and led all scorers with 11 points. Senior Kelly Kunkel and sophomore Jordan Fletcher had 10 points apiece.
Senior Kelsee Ennis led the Bearcats with nine points, five coming from the free-throw line. McKendree shot just 33 percent (14-for-42) and was outrebonded 37-26.
The Bearcats led 10-5, 15-10 and 19-16 in the first quarter, but the Tritons used a 10-0 run to grab a 26-19 lead early in the second quarter.
Ennis made two free throws that knotted the score at 37 with 2:06 left in the third quarter. That’s when UMSL began a 19-1 run that put the game far out of reach.