The Wildcats of Culver-Stockton (C-SC) (Mo.) hung around for most of the first half and kept the pressure on the home-standing Peru State men's basketball team Thursday night. However, the 'Cats went on a 12-0 run to finish off the first half to take a 51-34 lead into halftime.
C-SC managed to pull within 12 points early in the second-half, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get. Peru State would go on to a 91-69 win which puts the Bobcats into the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Postseason Tournament semifinals Saturday afternoon.
The Bobcats, seeded second in the Heart postseason tourney, will host the third-seeded William Penn (Iowa) Statesmen at 4 p.m. in the Al Wheeler Activity Center on the College's campus.
Peru State improved to 21-10 on the season while the Wildcats finished their season at 16-16.
First Half Action
A basket by Brandon Jones (Houston) on an assist from Lyle Hexom (Omaha) started the scoring for Peru State with just 15 seconds gone in the game. At the 19-minute mark, Jamil Maddred (Camden, N.J.) drained a trey – also coming on an assist from Hexom.
Culver-Stockton would score the next five points to tie the game which would be the only time the Wildcats would be in that situation.
Jones would grab an offensive rebound and put it back in to break the tie at the 17:56 mark. Peru State would never trail after that point.
The Bobcats would have their first double-digit lead at 25-15 when Maddred made the first of two free throws with 11:27 on the clock. After Peru State led by 14 at 30-16, the Wildcats would score six points to pull back within eight.
The teams would go back and forth for the next six minutes or so and with 3:50 on the clock, C-SC was within five at 39-34.
It was at that point that the Bobcat defense clamped down and the offense picked up. A trey by KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) off an assist from Terry Moore Jr. (Kansas City, Kan.) was followed by a basket by Jones on an assist from Moore Jr. Peru State was back up by ten at 44-34 with just under three minutes left in the first half.
Wilson would then hit back-to-back buckets and Hexom would end the half with a trey off an assist from Jones. The Bobcats would lead 51-34 after the first 20 minutes.
Second Half Action
Culver-Stockton would score the first five points of the second half to pull within 12, but that would be as close as the Wildcats would be the rest of the game.
A Hexom field goal would be followed by a Wilson trey coming off an assist from Maddred and Peru State had re-established its 17-point halftime lead.
Peru State would go on to score the next seven points which finished with a bucket by Deonte McReynolds (Chicago). The Bobcats led 64-39 with just under 14 minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats still had fight in them as they pulled back with 16 as they went on a 9-0 run. McReynolds stopped the run with a bucket off an assist from Hexom. Michael Wardy (Roca) followed with a bucket to put the Bobcats up by 20 at 68-48 with 11:33 remaining.
Peru Sate would lead by 20 or more the rest of the way. With 3:37 left in the game, Nicholas Wurm hit a bucket in the paint to give the Bobcats a 26-point advantage at 86-60.
Coach Bob Ludwig would clear the bench at that point with the rest of the team finishing the contest with the Bobcats eventually winning 91-69.
Peru State finished the game shooting 50.7% as they made 35 of 69 field goal attempts. The Bobcats made 9 of 24 from long range for 37.5%. At the free throw line, Peru State connected on 12 of 20 for 60%. Culver-Stockton made 22 of 62 field goal tries for 35.5% which included hitting 5 of 21 from behind the arc for 23.8%. At the charity stripe, the Wildcats made 20 of 27 for 74.1%.
The Bobcats had a big rebounding edge as they grabbed 44 boards compared to 29 for the Wildcats. Peru State dished out 17 assists while C-SC finished with five. Both teams had a comparable amount of turnovers as Culver-Stockton finished with ten turnovers while the Bobcats had nine.
Peru State blocked four shots while the Wildcats had one. The Bobcats tripled up the Wildcats in steals as they finished with six.
Peru Player Statistics
Five Bobcats finished in double figures. Jones led all scorers with 23 points on 11 of 15 shooting. Hexom and Wilson each finished with 14 points while McReynolds added 11. Moore Jr. contributed ten points. Maddred was one shy of reaching double figures.
Hexom grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Jones was one rebound away from a double-double.
Hexom also finished with a game-high six assists while Moore Jr. added four. Maddred and Jones each dished out three assists.
Jones had a game-high two blocks with Hexom and Wardy each finishing with one. Maddred, Hexom, and Moore Jr. were each credited with two steals.
All four of the top seeds in the Heart came through Thursday night. Top-seeded Benedictine (Kan.) will host fourth-seeded Clarke (Iowa) on Saturday at 4 p.m. At the same time, the Bobcats will be hosting third-seeded William Penn.
Benedictine is on a 28-game winning streak and is presently 29-2 on the year. Clarke has a five-game winning streak and is now 16-15.
The Statesmen of William Penn are 21-10 on the year after snapping a four-game losing streak which finished up their regular season. The Bobcats are on a three-game winning streak and are also 21-10.
William Penn and Peru State split their regular season games this season with each team winning on their home court. The Statesmen won 83-76 in December while the Bobcats won 85-68 near the end of January.
The winners of the two semifinal match-ups will face each other on Tuesday night at the higher-seed site. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
NCN Radio will provide a broadcast via B103 on the radio dial or on the internet at http://player.listenlive.co/58521. Peru State will provide live video and live stats which will be available at www.pscbobcats.com.