Clutch shooting helped Southern Indiana thwart every McKendree comeback attempt Saturday.
The Screaming Eagles shot 55 percent (39-for-71), including 50 percent on 3-pointers (13-for-26), in a 101-89 win over the Bearcats in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.
“All of our guys put a lot of work in this summer,” said 6-foot-7 junior T.J. Tisdell of Southern Indiana, who scored 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. “We worked hard to get to this point. There have been games we haven’t been able to shoot it this well, but we’ve put in the work for that to happen. The defense gave us opportunities and we just took advantage of it.”
Freshman Alex Stein (17 points, nine assists), junior Jeril Taylor (16), junior Bobo Drummond (14) and senior Travis Britt (10) also reached double figures for the Screaming Eagles (17-10, 9-8). Drummond had four 3-pointers and Taylor added three.
McKendree shot well, too, finishing at 57 percent (33-for-58).
Freshman Nate Michael led all scorers for McKendree (12-13, 5-12) with 28 points. Juniors David Franklin (24 points, nine rebounds) and Michael Jackson (15) also shined, as did senior John Murphy off the bench (10 points). Junior Kyle Yates had eight rebounds.
“They shot very well from the outside,” McKendree coach Harry Statham said of the Screaming Eagles, who were coming off an 86-81 loss to Illinois-Springfield. “Timely shots. They came at the right time. We would get a little run going and they would come back and hit a couple. We just couldn’t get a sustained drive going. They’re a good team.”
McKendree trailed 50-42 at halftime and on five occasions in the first 10 minutes of the half was within two possessions of Southern Indiana.
But the Screaming Eagles, after seeing their lead trimmed to 67-61 on Michael’s 3-pointer, reeled off seven straight points to take a game-high 13-point lead at 74-61 with 9:14 to play. Junior Cortez Macklin hit a 3-pointer, freshman Jacob Norman had a dunk off a turnover and Tisdell had a rebound basket.
The lead grew to 84-68 on Britt’s 3-pointer with 7:15 left. The Bearcats made one last hurrah, climbing within 86-78 on Jackon’s 3-pointer with 5:42 remaining. But senior Shane Seniour followed with a 3-pointer to make it 89-78, and McKendree could get no closer than seven in the final 4:41.
“They’ve been up and down this year, but when they’re good, they’re good,” Statham said. “They hit shots from around the perimeter, from way out. We weren’t in their face, but they were guarded ... and they hit them. We respect all of them. You put your hands high and hope for the best. We were there, but they made them anyway.”
Michael was 2-for-11 with five points Thursday in McKendree’s 95-65 loss to Bellarmine. The 6-3 guard was back at it, however, Saturday as he went 9-for-16 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. Michael is averaging 25.8 points in his last five games.
“I was looking for my shot a little more,” Michael said. “Bellarmine is at the top of the conference, top of the nation for a reason. They defend really well and had a good game plan coming in. It was tough to find my shot, but today, I was a little more aggressive, especially in the second half, trying to find my shot. I happened to make a few.”
Franklin continued his stellar season, too, with his 24 points coming on 9-for-14 shooting.
“They played well today,” Statham said of Michael and Franklin, an Althoff High graduate. “They just need a little more help, a little more time.”
Senior A.J. Schmidt reinjured his left knee in the first half and never returned. Schmidt suffered a posterior cruciate ligament injury in January and has been fighting to come back.
“He’ll probably be done for the year,” Statham said.
Southern Indiana 53, McKendree 50 (women)
Senior Kelsee Ennis’ potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark as the Bearcats’ late comeback bid fell short.
The Bearcats (11-16, 6-11) struggled against the Screaming Eagles’ long and active zone, shooting just 35 percent (16-for-46).
“We definitely didn’t move the ball like we needed to against that zone and have the dribble penetration that we (needed),” first-year McKendree coach Kari Kerkhoff said. “I felt like when they went to that zone, we just kind of stalled and hung on to the ball a little bit too much.
“We’ve been working a lot on our motion (offense) since December. We’ve come a long way on our motion. We got good at motion, so now people are playing us zone because they can’t stop us. We’re going to go back and start working on our zone offense even more.”
Kerkhoff estimated that the Bearcats were under duress against the shot clock more than a dozen times.
“I felt sometimes we didn’t have recognition of the shot clock as well, and part of that was because they were sometimes putting on a press beforehand and bringing that shot clock down,” Kerkhoff said. “We just needed better awareness and I need a few people to be a little bit more aggressive-minded. I thought we had some shots early that we chose not to take. We need to fix that.”
McKendree led 27-20 late in the first half and 27-23 at halftime. The game was tied at 45 after Ennis scored along the baseline with 4:47 left, but the Screaming Eagles took the lead for good at 47-45 on a basket by junior Hannah Wascher.
Junior Amber Alexander banked in a 3-pointer to bring the Bearcats within 52-50 with 11.5 seconds left before sophomore Randa Harshbarger made one of two free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining to put Southern Indiana ahead 53-50.
Ennis had an open look at the basket from 25 feet, but her shot was wide.
Ennis led the Bearcats with 13 points. The Screaming Eagles (14-11, 7-10) were led by sophomore Morgan Dahlstrom’s 19 points. Junior Kendyl Dearing had 16 points and four 3-pointers off the bench and junior Hannah Wascher had eight points and 12 rebounds.