The McKendree University men’s basketball team topped the 90-point mark for the fifth time this season, but the Bearcats were defeated Thursday night at the University of Southern Indiana, 100-95.
McKendree shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half (20-of-36) and pulled as close as three points in the final minute of play, but the host Screaming Eagles held on down the stretch to fend off the Bearcats’ comeback bid.
All five starters scored in double figures for McKendree. Senior guard Nate Michael led the way with a season-high 27 points, including six three-point field goals at USI. Junior guard Logan Kohrmann narrowly missed a double-double with 25 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Bearcats. Junior guard Alijah Thomas helped out with 15 points and a team-best five assists while sophomore forward Jacob Donaldson added 12 points on four three-pointers. Junior center Nolan Gerling rounded out the scoring barrage for McKendree with 10 points to go along with six rebounds.
McKendree outscored Southern Indiana 61-58 in the second half, but could not overcome an eight-point halftime deficit to the hosts.
After trailing Southern Indiana 42-34 at the half, McKendree saw its deficit grow to 17 points at 80-63 with 6:04 on the clock. The Bearcats began their comeback with six straight points as part of an 11-3 run to slash the Screaming Eagles’ lead to 74-63 a little over two minutes later.
USI extended its lead back to 12 points when McKendree made a furious push down the stretch. A three-pointer from Donaldson at the 1:08 mark helped the Bearcats rally within 92-88. Following two free throws by the Screaming Eagles’ Kobe Caldwell, Michael drained a three-pointer with 56 seconds on the clock cut the deficit to 94-91. Southern Indiana was able to hold off the Bearcats’ comeback effort at the free throw line, hitting all six of their attempts from the stripe over the final 41 seconds to preserve the conference win.
Five players also scored in double figures for USI, led by 26 points from Alex Stein. Caldwell chipped in with 21 points as Mateo Rivera added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Screaming Eagles.
With this loss, McKendree slips to 9-14 overall and 5-9 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Bearcats will head to Louisville, Ky., to close out a four-game road swing at Bellarmine University on Saturday. Game time is at 3 p.m. ET.