Rise of the Spires — USM downs Ottawa to capture conference crown; Saint Mary women fall

Amongst an army of white clad Saint Mary supporters, JEB Greenberg took in the moment.
Friends, family, teachers, coaches, classmates, teammates ― they all were there to watch him and the Spires men’s basketball team bring home a title.
The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season crown to be exact.
And after a 40-minute grind wherein USM dispatched visiting Ottawa 74-59, the moment had come. It was time to celebrate, time to let loose, time to bask in the reality.
The University of Saint Mary men’s basketball team are 2013 KCAC league champions.
“Man, it’s a great feeling,” the senior guard and Leavenworth alum said. “It’s four years in the making.”
The game itself saw USM build a seven-point lead going into half thanks in large part to its outside shooting.
In the second, that offense hit a bump in the road and back came Ottawa, cutting the lead to three with eight minutes to go.
That was as close as the game got, however, as Saint Mary’s buckled down defensively while going to the basket offensively. The aggressiveness led to a double-digit lead and eventually the victory.
“We wanted to get the crowd into it early and I thought we did that by making some 3-pointers,” USM coach Jon Bishop said. “The crowd was huge tonight. We were waiting for our home crowd and student body after that Tabor loss. We have the best home court advantage in the league and we took advantage of it. They were great.”
USM, 21-7 overall and 15-2 in the KCAC, will conclude its regular season Saturday when its host Southwestern College at 7 p.m.
“It feels great,” Saint Mary forward Chip Schneider said. “ We just worked so hard. Going through some trials and tribulations, but we are here now, on cloud nine.”

Saint Mary women’s slide hits five
Different night, same story for the Lady Spires Thursday.
In its second to last game of the season, the Saint Mary women’s basketball team couldn’t generate enough offense to deliver a win.
The lackluster scoring punch allowed a halftime advantage to turn into a blow out loss, the team’s fifth straight, when USM lost 58-44 to visiting Ottawa University.
“We just didn’t make shots when we needed to,” Saint Mary coach Mike Basler said. “You can’t score 40 points in a college basketball game and expect to win. It’s just not going to happen that much, if ever.”
It was a lethargic first half, though one in which the Lady Spires were able to keep the Lady Braves bottled up. At the break, the home team was up 22-20.
However, the defensive performance could not be sustained in the second half and the Saint Mary offense failed to hang with its visitors.
After beginning outscored 38-22, USM suffered the 14-point loss.
The Lady Spires, 8-21 overall and 2-15 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, will host Southwestern College Saturday at 5 p.m. in the teams’ regular season finale.