Coming into Thursday’s game against the Sterling College Warriors, the Builders are even at 5-5 on the season. While they have a multitude of players who contribute, two in particular have made themselves noticeable in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Marcus Batiste, senior forward, is currently ranked third in the conference in scoring as he averages 16.3 points per game. Justin Diggles, senior guard, has also been a catalyst for the team as he is hitting 56.7 percent of his shots, 0.1 percent shy of the conference leader.
Meanwhile, the Warriors, who are the defending KCAC champs, are ranked second-
to-last in the KCAC with a 2-7 record. “I don’t let anyone’s record fool me,” said Batiste. “We go into it as it being a hard game, and we just have to take it one game at a time.” They are coming off of an 80-75 loss to Bethany College. Despite its losing record, Sterling is ranked in the top half of the conference in nearly every major statistic. The Warriors come in with the third highest scoring offense and second highest field goal percentage defense. Zach Goodrich, junior guard, leads the KCAC in steals per game with 3.25 and assists per game with 5.00.
The tipoff for the men’s game starts at 8 p.m. at Stewart Field House. “We are going to be focused and ready to play our best,” said Matt O’ Brien, head basketball coach. “Sterling is a very good basketball team, and they are much better than their record indicates.”
The Builders traveled to Friends University on Saturday. The Falcons came into the game with a 4-4 record and were averaging 77.44 points per game.
The Builders struggled to keep up with Friends in the first half as they found themselves in a hole early on. The men went into the locker rooms at halftime down 38-26.
The second half didn’t prove to be much better for the Builders as the Falcons continued their dominance. “We just had an off night shooting,” said Drew Kelso, junior guard. “It is tough to win on the road in this conference.” The final buzzer sounded with the score 81-61, Friends victory.
The Builders committed 15 turnovers and shot just 37.5 percent throughout the game. The men were also outrebounded 33-26. “Overall we were prepared for the game, but rebounding and playing defense were both major factors,” said Batiste.
Diggles led the Builders in scoring with 25 points and hit 10-17 shots. Stuart Ballard, junior forward, had seven rebounds in the Builders losing effort.
“We prepared the best we could for Friends,” said O’ Brien. “They played better than us and won. We just need to keep focusing on doing our best.”
The Builders had a better showing against the Saint Mary Spires on Dec. 3 in their conference opener at home.
Both teams looked good early on as most of the first half saw back and forth scoring and continuous momentum changes. A late surge put the men ahead 49-39 at the half.
The Builders came out of the locker rooms looking confident as they increased their lead to as much as 18 in the second half.
The Spires did not go away, though, as they made a strong comeback in the final minutes of the game. With 3:55 left, the Spires narrowed Southwestern’s lead to 79-76. That would be as close as they would come though, as late turnovers and costly mistakes sealed the Spires’ fate. The final score read 86-83.
In a game that saw much offense from both sides, the Builders shot extremely well. The men hit 55.9 percent of their shots from the field including 7-20 from beyond the arch. The Builders also had 10 steals and 18 assists.
Diggles had another career day scoring 27 points, hitting 11-15 shots, and snatching seven rebounds. He also led the Builders with nine assists. Batiste closely followed with 24 points and six rebounds.
Clint Dick is a freshman majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.