After a big three pointer by Southwestern’s Stuart Ballard, senior forward, the Builders were not able to stay on top as they had the previous two games of the season. The Builders fell to Mid America Christian University 85-65.
MACU took the lead 5:56 into the game and never looked back. At the half, the Builders were down 13 due to costly turnovers and lack of scoring in the paint. “I think that a major weakness in these first three games is our turnovers,” said Matt O’ Brien, head basketball coach. “We did an excellent job last season in taking care of the basketball, one of the tops in the league at turnover ratio. It has been a glaring weakness in the first three games but our starting point guard has gone down and I think we are making the adjustment and we’ll adjust once we figure out who we are going to be and where people are going to play. We just got to keep battling.”’
Early in the game, Southwestern had success moving the ball around the outside of the court but struggled to execute with the ball in the paint. “Our timing was off, when we got the ball to the wing, we were a second late throwing it inside. Any time you get a couple turnovers in the post your guards start to get a little cautious about throwing it in,” said O’ Brien.
Ethan Randolph, junior forward, who scored at ease in the first two games, scoring 23 in the first and 30 in the second, struggled to get baskets against MACU who is a skilled NAIA Division I team. Randolph still worked hard around the rim getting 12 rebounds. “I just struggled finishing around the rim,” said Randolph. “I took a lot of shots that I usually make and next time I’ll probably knock them down I just have to get past it.” Randolphe appeared after the game wearing a boot on his foot for support.
Chris Nelson, junior forward, stepped it up on both ends of the court in support of the struggling Randolphe. Nelson was one rebound away from having a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring 20 points. “Chris Nelson really locked down, put his heart out on the floor tonight and really busted his butt,” said Randolphe.
“I just tried to stay aggressive and make the easy plays,” said Nelson. “I just felt Like I drove the basketball well.”
The beat up Builders seemed tired going into the second half. Being down 13 they couldn’t regroup for a comeback.
Southwestern missing multiple starters are short benched and many players are getting a lot of minutes on the floor. “The guys that we played tonight, We are happy with the way they are playing, they just aren’t built to play thirty to thirty-five minutes,” said O’Brien, “We are going to be a deeper and we’re going to be a different team when we get some of these bodies back.”
Ultimately the builders fell short of a victory, losing by 20 to MACU. “I felt like this game helped to point out our weaknesses as a team. Being that its early in the year I feel like we can build off of this loss,” said Nelson, “I feel that our team can see that there is still room for improvement and this will motivate us to work harder.”
The Builders play Ozark Christian College, Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Stewart Field House.
Kyle Killgore is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org