Nathan Boyle and Ben Sisson scored 14 points apiece, but the Kentucky Wesleyan College men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome visiting rival Southern Indiana in an 85-80 overtime loss Wednesday night at the Sportscenter.
Sisson knocked down a jump shot in the lane to tie the game with 1:03 remaining in regulation, and Jamil Wilson made a pair of foul shots to give Wesleyan a 69-67 lead with 27 seconds remaining.
USI’s Isaiah Swope knocked down a long 2-point jumper at the other end to tie the contest, and the Panthers couldn’t get a shot to fall in the waning seconds — sending the game to an extra period.
The Screaming Eagles (2-1) took over in overtime, knocking down 4-of-5 shot attempts in the frame. After Wesleyan’s Jomel Boyd made two free throws to tie the affair, USI reeled off a 7-0 run — capped by Tyler Henry’s layup with 1:09 remaining — for an 80-73 lead.
The Panthers (3-2) got to within four points twice down the stretch, both on a pair of Boyle 3-pointers, but KWC could get no closer from there.
“In overtime, so many times, it just comes down to making plays,” KWC coach Drew Cooper said afterward. “Isaiah Swope comes in for them and just did some remarkable things for them down the stretch.
“I was disappointed in the loss. I’m disappointed for our fans and for our players. We’re still trying to define ourselves. We’re still in the informatory stage to some extent and trying to figure out what works.”
Cooper likened Wednesday’s contest to KWC’s loss at Lindenwood during the season’s opening weekend.
“Nevermind holding on, in terms of going out and exceeding your first-half effort with a great second-half effort,” said Cooper, whose squad led USI 42-36 at intermission. “We haven’t done it.
“This one hurts. All losses hurt, but it was an opportunity for us to let the community know that we’re thinking about them, we want them here. We just didn’t get it done.”
The Panthers were rolling in the first half, knocking down 51.6% of their shots from the field and 6-of-12 from 3-point range (50%).
However, those numbers dwindled to 43.3% from the floor and 10-of-27 from long distance (37%) by the final horn.
KWC also made 12-of-14 foul shots (85.7%).
Antonio Thomas knocked down a jumper to put Wesleyan ahead 57-49 at the 9:28 mark of the second half, but USI responded with a 13-4 scoring outburst over the next seven minutes to take a one-point lead. Neither team could seize control in the final two minutes, leading to overtime.
“We kept throwing it into the post down the stretch,” Cooper said. “We made a concerted effort to go down low to Ben Sisson and Jomel Boyd, and (USI) did a pretty good job on them.
“They were big and strong and good one-on-one defenders.”
Boyd and Sisson combined to shoot 11-of-24 from the field, and each hauled in seven rebounds. Boyd finished with 13 points, and Jordan Roland added 11 points.
Battaile and Thomas chipped in nine points apiece, with Thomas and Wilson tying for the team-high with five assists apiece. Wilson also led the Panthers with eight boards.
Mateo Rivera scored 16 points, and Jelani Simmons posted 15 points for the Screaming Eagles, who shot 45.1% from the field, 8-of-21 from beyond the arc (38.1%) and 13-of-19 at the foul line (68.4%). Henry and Swope tallied 12 and 11 points, respectively.
USI also forced 12 turnovers compared to only nine of its own, leading to a 19-9 edge in points off turnovers.
“We were just waiting for — not even a couple shots to fall — just someone to step in there like they had,” Cooper said. “They had Mateo Rivera down the stretch of the game, he made some plays. Isaiah Swope made some plays.
“We just didn’t have anybody, whether it was us not getting them in the right spots or fatigue or whatever it was, we didn’t have the firepower and the confidence down the stretch to make the necessary plays tonight.”
KWC returns to action Monday when the Panthers host Salem at the Sportscenter.
SOUTHERN INDIANA 36 33 16 — 85
KENTUCKY WESLEYAN 42 27 11 — 80
Southern Indiana (85) — Rivera 16, Simmons 15, Henry 12, Swope 11, Polakovich 9, Hughes 8, Casey 6, Jones 4, Cunningham 2, Belyeu 2.
Kentucky Wesleyan (80) — Boyle 14, Sisson 14, Boyd 13, Roland 11, Battaile 9, Thomas 9, Wilson 7, Sukhanov 3.