FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s men’s basketball team dug itself a hole on Tuesday night that it just couldn’t get out of as the Warriors dropped another close game at home.
The Warriors (2-2 overall) fell behind early before ultimately falling 72-65 to the York College Panthers (4-1 overall) to even their record at 2-2, with both losses coming at home in the Wikert Event Center.
The Panthers came out firing and connected on each of their first four shots to sprint out to an 11-0 lead in less than three minutes of play. Midland was a step behind on defense during that time, which made the difference as the game went on.
The Warriors trailed by 12 with 15 minutes left to play but managed to lock back in and slowly cut into the deficit for the rest of the half. An 11-2 run over a six minute span got Midland back to within three points of the lead as the Panthers went cold from the field.
Both teams played even for the remainder of the half as York went into halftime with a 31-28 lead. After the fast start for the Panthers, Midland outscored them 28-20 to keep the game close.
York started fast in the second half again as Eric Lenear knocked down three straight shots to put the Panthers up by 10. Midland again had to dig itself out of a hole, but managed to do so using the three-ball.
Junior Laurence Merritt knocked down a three-pointer with 12 and a half minutes to play that brought Midland to within four of the lead. Sophomore Bowen Sandquist then knocked down back-to-back threes and traded buckets with the Panthers to tie the score at 46-46.
Lance Ewell knocked down back-to-back threes after Sandquist to put York back up by six, but three-pointers from Sandquist and Merritt again kept the Warriors close. With under seven minutes to play, an 8-0 run from York, including six straight points from Tyreece Berry, put York back up by 10.
Midland couldn’t get any closer than five points from the lead after that as York maintained a steady lead before leaving Fremont with a seven-point win. Lenear led all scored with 25 points thanks to shooting 8-for-12 from the field, 4-for-6 from three-point range, and 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Berry added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Ewell added 13 points to help lead York’s offense.
Junior Ryan Williams led the Warriors with 19 points despite struggling from the field and shooting just 8-for-21. Williams added 12 rebounds to record a double-double. Sandquist added 13 points and sophomore Emanuel Bryson came off the bench to add 10 points and five rebounds.
Merritt also came off the bench and gave the offense efficient play at point guard as he added eight points and four assists compared to just one turnover in 27 minutes on the court.
The Warriors have shown lots of heart and hustle at times this season, but the young team has to consistently put together 40 minutes of clean basketball if they want to find success with conference play fast approaching.
Before starting their GPAC schedule on November 12, the Warriors will play in an exhibition game on Thursday, November 7, at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Tipoff at Baxter Arena in Omaha is set for 12:00 p.m.