This time, McKendree University’s comeback bid fell short.
The Bearcats cut a 15-point deficit to seven in the second half Saturday, but Drury held on to preserve an 87-76 victory in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.
Senior Kameron Bundy scored 22 of his team-high 28 points in the second half for the Panthers, who improved to 16-7 overall and 11-4 in the GLVC. Sophomore Tevin Foster added 20 points and freshman Douglas Moore came off the bench and scored 11.
“(Bundy) has been the ringleader,” Drury coach Steve Hesser said. “He’s been a three-year starter and he made some good decisions. He was talented enough to jump up and make (shots) and the guys did a good job of getting him open on screens. We did a nice job offensively the whole game.”
The Panthers, who shot 68 percent in the second half (19-for-28) were well aware of McKendree’s valiant rally Thursday that produced a 108-105 overtime win over Missouri S&T. The Bearcats had trailed by 19 points with nine minutes left.
But Drury, which held McKendree to 6-for-26 shooting in the first half and led 32-25 at the intermission, received a key four-point play from Bundy late in the second half, then sealed the outcome with a 7-0 run in the closing seconds.
“Obviously, we didn’t get off to a good start,” said McKendree coach Harry Statham, whose team fell to 12-11 and 5-10. “They’re a very good team. They’re well-coached, they’ve got balance, they’ve got some experience, they’ve got really good shooters.
“We didn’t do a bad job the first half on defense. The last half, they exploded. We did better ourselves. But that’s a great guard tandem (Bundy and Foster).”
Junior David Franklin led all scorers with 31 points for McKendree. Freshman Nate Michael scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half and junior Michael Jackson added 13 points. Franklin and Michael were each 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
You can’t expect to come out and sweep these guys. We’ve played great basketball the last month. I’m not apologizing. Our kids played hard and got beat by a better team.
McKendree coach Harry Statham
Franklin, Michael and Jackson accounted for all but six of McKendree’s points. The Bearcats shot 42 percent (25-for-59), including 58 percent in the second half (19-for-33).
Michael said Drury’s offensive balance and execution made it difficult to come back. The Panthers shot 58 percent from the field (34-for-59) and had just eight turnovers.
“They’re a well-coached team and they’re disciplined,” Michael said. “There’s a bunch of veterans on that team. You get behind on them, it’s tough because they run their offense so well and so quick. They don’t take any quick shots and they don’t make many mistakes on offense. It’s tough to play defense for 25 or 30 seconds without having a breakdown.”
Foster’s 3-pointer put Drury ahead 58-43 with 10:47 to play. But Michael’s jumper cut McKendree’s deficit to 67-60 with 5:32 left.
The Bearcats trailed 73-64 after two free throws by Michael, but Bundy followed with a banked-in 3-pointer from above the key while being fouled by Jackson. Bundy made the ensuing free throw to put the Panthers ahead 77-64 with 3:07 remaining.
They’re a well-coached team and they’re disciplined. There’s a bunch of veterans on that team. You get behind on them, it’s tough because they run their offense so well and so quick.
McKendree freshman Nate Michael on the Drury Panthers
McKendree inched back within 80-73 with 1:14 left before Moore and Foster each made two free throws and Bundy hit a 3-pointer out of the corner to make it 87-73.
“We had some players step up today,” Bundy said. “Tevin made some big shots and I happened to make a couple of big plays for us. That’s how we kept that lead.”
Statham, once again, had no issues with his team’s effort.
“It’s a difficult schedule,” Statham said. “These (Drury) guys are a very good team. Beating S&T was a big win. You can’t expect to come out and sweep these guys. We’ve played great basketball the last month. I’m not apologizing. Our kids played hard and got beat by a better team.”
Drury 71, McKendree 60 (women)
The Bearcats slugged it out with the No. 12 team in the Division II poll, closing within 59-56 on a three-point play by freshman Jordan Morton with 2:14 to play.
But Drury (20-3, 13-2), which extended its winning streak to 10, put the game out of reach on its next two possessions, as senior Annie Armstrong had a three-point play and senior Addy Roller made a 3-pointer to make it 65-56 at the 1:08 mark.
McKendree (11-14, 6-9) was no closer than seven in the final 52 seconds.
“I think we did a good job of battling with them,” Bearcats coach Kari Kerkhoff said. “I would have liked to have seen a better start to the game and a better start to the third quarter.
“We were down nine at half (39-30) and I was fine with that, but then we came out and let them score 11 points in the first four minutes (of the third quarter). That was huge momentum for them. But our team always battles back. That is for sure.”
Junior Emily Pusheck came off the bench to lead McKendree with 14 points. Freshman Jordan Morton had 11 points and seven rebounds, while senior Kelsee Ennis and junior Amber Alexander scored 10 points apiece. Junior Shannon McGinnis snagged nine rebounds.
Roller had 18 points, four 3-pointers and nine assists for Drury. Armstrong had 15 points and junior Briana Jones had 11 points. Junior Hannah Dressler led all players with 11 rebounds. The Panthers were 10-for-18 on 3-pointers and were 8-for-12 in the first half.
“Their 3s they were getting was off them attacking the basket and kicking it to the outside,” Kerkhoff said. “We just needed to have better containment, and I thought we did that in the second half. Even when we did get beat on dribble penetration, we were out there on the 3s with better pressure on the ball to kind of alter shots.”