By its fingernails, the Saint Mary men's basketball team clung to perfection Saturday.
With less than a minute to go, visiting Bethany College cut an already slim USM lead to two points. Sixty seconds later that advantage shriveled to one point, but the Spires fortitude proved too strong.
Thanks to some timely shots, Saint Mary edged Bethany 80-79, keeping the squad unbeaten in conference play. With a spotless 6-0 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference mark, 11-5 overall, USM will host Tabor College (6-9, 5-1 in the KCAC) at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"We made enough plays down the stretch to win the game, though we didn't close it out like I would have liked," USM coach Jon Bishop said.
This past weekend's game versus Bethany was a back-and-forth affair. Neither team could pull away from each other as the squads traded lead changes and ties throughout the contest.
At the half, the home team was up a mere point, 32-31, over its visitors. The Swedes actually took a six-point lead midway through the second half, but the Spires raced back to recapture the advantage and enlarge it to 70-63 with 4:23 left.
Slowly, Bethany chipped away until the game's final minute, where clutch offensive execution and free throw shooting from Saint Mary preserved the team's one-point win.
As a team, USM made 30-of-43 free throws compared to the 16-of-23 clip the Swedes posted. Five Spires reached double-digits in scoring, with Shiron Williams being the leader with 17 points. JEB Greenberg had eight rebounds to go along with 16 points.
"I don't think we have come close to hitting our ceiling yet, and when we will do that I don't know," Bishop said. "But to reach that potential, we just have to continue to push each other in practice and let the games fall where they may."
Pioneers' slide hits two straight
The Leavenworth boys' basketball team suffered through its second-straight loss Saturday.
After beginning the season winning its first two, the Pioneers have dropped three of its last four contests following a 66-44 defeat at Lincoln North Star over the weekend in Nebraska.
The LV squad, 3-3, will try to snap the streak tonight when it hosts Olathe South at 7 p.m.
Raiders lose on last-second shot
The Immaculata boys’ basketball team just can’t seem to catch a break.
Playing on the road Monday at Maranatha, the Raiders suffered a 50-48 loss when the home team tossed in the game-winning basket as time expired.
"We played better," Imac coach Mike Connelly said. "We just didn't handle the pressure down the stretch."
Danny Boisson had a team high 16 points, followed by Connor Schmidling’s 12 while Connor Goetz and Josh Boeppler each had eight.
Page 2 of 2 - Imac, 1-5, will be back on the floor this evening when they host Oskaloosa at 7:30 p.m.