LAKE WALES, Fla. – Midland University’s men’s basketball team traveled south for a pair of games in the Holiday Inn Express Classic, hosted by Tuesday’s opponent, the No. 21 Warner University Royals. Even with two key pieces battling illnesses, the Warriors put up a fight.
The Warriors (5-9) only trailed the Royals (9-6) by two at halftime before ultimately falling 94-82 to Warner. With senior forward Reggie Gradwell and junior guard Bryce Parson out of the lineup, a 12-point loss is nothing for the Warriors to hang their heads at.
Freshman Bowen Sandquist stepped up in a big way to help lead a depleted Midland squad as he racked up 26 points on 7-17 shooting from the field (5-12 3FG) and 7-8 from the free throw line. It’s the eighth time this season that Sandquist has finished in double-figures and the third time the freshman has eclipsed 20 points.
A pair of big men helped Sandquist keep the Warriors in the ballgame as senior Luke Cadzow and junior Isaiah Workman each contributed offensively.
Workman came off the bench to score 18 points on 7-12 shooting from the field while adding eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block to an impressive final stat sheet. Cadzow finished with 14 points thanks to sinking four three-pointers in the game. In Parsons’ absence, Cadzow also dished out five assists, one behind freshman Malik Martin who led the team with six dimes.
Sophomore guard Laurence Merritt was the other Warrior in double-figures, tying his career-high of 13 points while also bringing in five rebounds, coming away with four steals, and dishing out two assists.
Midland jumped out to a fast 13-5 lead on the Royals in the game’s first five minutes before Warner came crawling back to take over the lead near the halfway point of the first half. The rest of the half was an even matchup that saw both teams hold leads for minutes at a time, the largest margin being a seven-point advantage for Warner.
Sandquist finished an outstanding first half with 17 points and four made three-pointers.
The second half was kinder to the Royals after the teams stayed close through the first part of the half. A three-pointer from Cadzow put Midland up 54-52 with just under 15 minutes to play. Warner’s Khalil Ozuna completed a three-point play just a couple of possessions later to give the Royals another lead, the final lead change of the game.
Including the three points from Ozuna, Warner went on a 15-4 run to grow its lead to nine points with less than 10 minutes to play. The closest the Warriors got to the lead after that was six points as the lead eventually reach as high as 15 before the Royals held on for a 94-82 victory. Ozuna led Warner with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds,
Even without two of its leaders, Midland held tough in a far-away road game against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Warriors continue to showcase resiliency as the season goes, proving that they are never an easy out.
Midland takes the court in Lake Wales again on Thursday when they face University of Rio Grande (7-6 overall) at 5:00 p.m. CST. Rio Grande and Warner face off on Wednesday afternoon.