With a lot of marbles on the line, the Peru State men's basketball team came through. The Bobcats snapped a three-game losing streak by punishing the home-standing Missouri Valley Vikings Wednesday night in Marshall, Mo.
The 'Cats won 93-66 to secure at least the third seed in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Post-season Tournament. By doing so, it guarantees that Peru State will host at least one home game in the tournament which would be next Thursday night, March 7.
With the win, the Bobcats improved to 19-10 overall and more importantly to 14-9 in conference play. Mo Valley fell to 11-18 on the season and 9-14 in the Heart. The Vikings are one game out of making the post-season tournament with one game to play.
The win avenged an earlier buzzer-beating 87-86 loss to Vikings two weeks prior to last night.
First Half Action
The 'Cats never trailed in the contest after Tyrone Carey Jr. (Aurora, Ill.) hit a bucket in the paint off an assist from KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) at the 19:24 mark in the first half. Jamil Maddred (Camden, N.J.) hit a bucket to put the Bobcats up 4-0.
With 17:35 to go in the first half, Missouri Valley got on the board with a trey to cut the score to 4-3. That would be as close as the Vikings would be the rest of the entire contest.
Lyle Hexom (Omaha) followed with a trey off an assist from Maddred to make it 7-3.
Later, another trey by Hexom, coming on an assist from Brandon Jones (Houston) gave the Bobcats their first double-digit lead at 15-5 at the 15:18 point in the first 20 minutes.
After leading by 11 at 35-24, the Vikings went on a 7-0 run to pull within four with just over five minutes to go in the first half. Another Hexom trey on an assist from Jones stopped the run. Hexom would then make one of two free throws which he followed by another trey, this time on an assist from Maddred to make the score 42-31 with 1:44 remaining.
Hexom would finish the half with another three-pointer, this time on an assist from Wilson, with six seconds left on the clock to give the Bobcats a 45-31 advantage at halftime.
Second Half Action
Wilson started the second half with a trey on an assist from Hexom to give Peru State its largest lead to that point in the game.
The Vikings would score five straight to pull within 12 at 48-36 which would later prove to be the closest Mo Valley would be during the rest of the game. At the 17:03 mark, Wilson hit another three-pointer on an assist from Carey Jr. and the 'Cats were on their way to their 19th win of the season.
Peru State's first 20-point lead came at the 14:46 mark when Hexom hit a trey on an assist from Jones. The Bobcats were leading 58-36 at that point and their lead never was less than 20 from that point on. It sounds like a broken record, but with 5:16 to go in the game, Hexom would hit another trey, again on an assist from Jones, to put Peru State up 82-51 – their first 30-point-plus lead of the contest.
The Vikings would go back and forth with the 'Cats from that point on and later with 1:52 left, Nicholas Wurm (Adelaide, Australia) put the Bobcats back up by 31 at 90-59 with a pair of free throws.
Seth Snoddy (Daly City, Calif.) scored the final points of the game for the 'Cats which followed by a final Mo Valley bucket for the 93-66 win.
Team Statistics
Peru State enjoyed the Mo Valley arena as they made 30 of 58 field goals for 51.7% which included shooting almost as well from behind the arc. The 'Cats hit 17 of 36 three-point attempts for 47.2%. In addition, the Bobcats went 16 of 19 from the free throw line for 84.2%. The Vikings connected on 21 of 61 field goal tries for 34.4% while making just 5 of 25 from long range for 20%. At the charity stripe, Mo Valley made 19 of 27 for 70.4%.
The Bobcats had a big rebounding edge as they finished with 44 caroms compared to 29 for the Vikings. The 'Cats dished out 26 assists, almost double that of the Vikings who finished with 14.
The 'Cats did commit more turnovers as they finished with 22 while Missouri Valley had 14. Peru State blocked two shots while the Vikings had one. Mo Valley nabbed 12 steals compared to nine for the Bobcats.
Peru Player Statistics
Hexom led all scorers and was the only Bobcat scoring in double figures as he finished with 38 points – a season-high for him. He made 12 of 19 field goals which included hitting 10 of 16 from behind the arc. Those ten three-pointers tied Hexom for a single-game mark which was set by Rashad Brackeen from two years ago.
Ten other Bobcats scored in the contest with Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) finishing with nine and Wilson adding eight. Carey Jr., Jones, and Moore Jr. each finished with seven while Maddred added six.
Wilson led the team in rebounding with eight while Jones added seven. Maddred and Hexom each had six boards.
Wilson and Jones each dished out six assists with Maddred contributing five. Hexom and Carey Jr. each blocked one shot. Hexom led the team with three steals while Maddred and Wilson each nabbed two.
Upcoming Games
The Bobcats will finish the regular season with a home game against Baker (Kan.) on Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. The Wildcats are 10-18 on the year and presently are 7-16 in the conference. With a win, the 'Cats would share at least a tie for the second seed in the conference regular season with tie-breakers being used to determine which team – either William Penn or Peru State – would have the better seed.
By virtue of its win Wednesday night, Peru State will at least host a quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 7, in the Al Wheeler Activity Center. Their possible opponents cannot be determined until after Saturday's play as there is quite a log jam in the middle of the Heart regular season standings.