WINFIELD, Kan. – The Southwestern College men's basketball team secured its third-straight 20-win season with a win over the University of Saint Mary Thursday evening. The Moundbuilders defeated the Spires, 77-74, inside historic Stewart Field House.
Sophomore Cameron Hunt led Southwestern (20-9, 13-8 KCAC) with 21 points. The Duncanville, Texas, native went 7-for-14 from the floor, and added seven rebounds and four assists. Junior DJ Wallace added 20 points thanks to a 9-for-18 effort from the floor, while Jacob Horsch drained three treys on his way to 13 points.
Saint Mary (21-9, 13-8 KCAC) standout Grant Greenberg led all scorers with 25 points.
Southwestern shot 43.9 percent (29-66) from the floor, and 38.5 percent (10-26) from three-point range. The Moundbuilders converted 75 percent (9-12) of their free throws, and out-rebounded the Spires, 40-33.
Saint Mary scored the first bucket of the game, but the Moundbuilders answered with a 5-2 spurt to take a 5-4 lead on Myron Fisher's triple with 18:26 still to play. Greenberg responded with a bucket on USM's next trip down the floor, but the Builders returned the favor with an 11-4 run over the next three minutes. Cameron Hunt capped the run with a three that gave Southwestern a 16-10 lead at the 15:07 mark. The Spires pulled back to within three (21-18) with 11:15 to play, but Southwestern controlled the final 10 minutes of the half. DJ Wallace, Hunt and Josh Howard each scored over the next 90 seconds as part of a 6-0 spurt that pushed the Moundbuilder lead to 27-18. Saint Mary answered with a quick 8-2 run, and cut its gap to 29-26 with 7:50 remaining, but Southwestern took it from there. Back-to-back Wallace buckets sparked an 18-4 run over the final seven minutes of the half, and a Jacob Horsch in the final seconds of the half gave the Moundbuilders a 49-32 halftime lead.
Brent Smith scored Southwestern's first five points of the second half, and pushed the lead to 54-36 on an old-fashioned three-point play with 18:16 still to play. Saint Mary, meanwhile, spent the entire second half slowly, but surely, chipping away at the Moundbuilder lead. By the 10-minute mark, the Spires had pulled to within eight, 67-59. Smith pushed the lead back to 10 with a lay-up at the 9:44 mark, but the Spires made their move over the next eight minutes. A 15-5 USM run forced a 74-74 tie when Greenberg drained a triple from the top of the key with 1:45 to play. But that three was also Saint Mary's final bucket of the game. DJ Wallace hit a free throw with 1:19 to play, and Hunt converted two more in the final 15 seconds to help secure the win. Saint Mary had two different looks at a potential game-tying bucket in the final seconds, but both attempts were off the mark, and Southwestern held on for the 77-74 win.
Thursday's win moves Southwestern to 20-9 on the season. It also moves Southwestern into a tie with Saint Mary for third place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, and assures the Moundbuilders of first-round home game in next week's KCAC Championship tournament. Southwestern will close the 2016-17 regular season with a trip to McPherson, Kan., to face the Bulldogs of McPherson College. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. inside the Sport Center.