The McKendree University men’s basketball team dropped an 86-80 overtime decision Saturday afternoon at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center against Rockhurst University.
The visiting Hawks scored the first four points and never trailed in the extra period to capture the Great Lakes Valley Conference contest. McKendree slips to 8-6 overall and 1-5 in GLVC play. The Bearcats will open up a three-game road swing with a trip north on Monday evening to face the University of Illinois Springfield. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Freshman guard Nate Michael (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden) made the most of his first career start for McKendree as he showed the way with 26 points, including an 8-for-8 effort from the free throw line. Junior guard David Franklin (O’Fallon, Ill./Althoff Catholic) helped out with 23 points and a career-best 13 rebounds to go along with a team-high four assists. Junior guard Michael Jackson (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon) connected 12 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Bearcats.
A close game throughout the final 25 minutes of play, McKendree trailed 45-39 in the early stages of the second half before bouncing back. A 9-2 run gave the Bearcats their first lead of the period at 48-47 with 15:58 remaining. Rockhurst battled back to regain the lead and stretch its margin to as many as five points when McKendree fought back again. A jumper by Franklin was followed by a three-pointer from Jackson at the 6:37 mark knotted the score at 60-60.
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The Bearcats had a slight lead down the stretch when the Hawks reeled off five straight points to surge back in front at 68-67 with 52 seconds left in regulation. Junior forward Darin Winkelman hit a jumper on the ensuing possession to give McKendree a 69-68 lead with 37.4 seconds on the clock. Rockhurst’s Malachi Nix then drove the lane with 24.9 seconds on the clock and was credited with a goal on basket interference by McKendree to regain the lead at 70-69.
McKendree worked the ball to Franklin on its next possession, who was fouled with 13.2 seconds to play in regulation. Franklin hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 70-70. Each team came up empty on one final possession to send the game into overtime.
After Rockhurst scored the first four points of the extra session, Michael buried a long three-pointer to bring McKendree within 74-73. That was as close as the Bearcats would come as the Hawks never relinquished the lead. Rockhurst eventually pushed its margin to as many as eight points and held off a late charge from McKendree to grab its second straight win. The Hawks made their most of their second-chance opportunities in Saturday’s game, outscoring the Bearcats 20-4 when extending their possessions.
Dominique Washington posted a double-double to lead Rockhurst (8-6, 3-3 GLVC). Washington netted 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the contest. Nix and Austin LeVan each added 14 points, while Alex Hagen chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks.
Saturday marked the first overtime game of the 2015-16 season for McKendree. It was also just the Bearcats’ second home loss in nine games at the Statham Center this season.