League-leading Cougars sweep Roadrunners
Published 5:27 pm Monday, February 20, 2023
DOWAGIAC — The top teams in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association’s West Division invaded the 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon and swept host Southwestern Michigan College.
The Cougars snapped the Roadrunner women’s basketball team’s undefeated home record with a 66-58 victory, while KVCC outscored the Southwestern Michigan College men’s basketball team 49-35 in the second half in its 92-78 win.
The loss dropped the SMC women’s basketball team to 15-8 overall and 5-4 in the Western Conference. The Roadrunners are now 12-1 at home this season. The Cougars improve to 15-7 overall and 9-1 in conference games.
The SMC men’s team drops to 13-9 overall and 4-5 in the Western Conference. The No. 17-ranked Cougars are 20-5 overall and 8-2 in league contests.
Southwestern Michigan led after the opening quarter (16-14) and at halftime (27-26), but could not fend off the Cougars in the second half.
Kalamazoo Valley outscored the Roadrunners 17-14 in the third quarter to grab a 43-41 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Southwestern Michigan and Kalamazoo Valley battled back and forth in the final quarter. The two teams were tied at 55-55 late in the contest when the Cougars made their move.
Kalamazoo Valley outscored the Roadrunners 11-3 down the stretch to pull out the victory and remain tied with Glen Oaks Community College atop the Western Conference standings. The Roadrunners host Glen Oaks in its regular-season finale Saturday.
“I thought we played a great game all-around,” said SMC Coach Jeanine Wasielewski. “The game itself was tremendous. It was highly competitive, both teams really showed off what their strengths were. They closed the game and we didn’t.”
Cameron Thomas (Hazel Crest, Illinois) scored a team-high 23 points. She also had seven rebounds, two steals and two assists. Macey Laubach (Edwardsburg) added 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals Tori Eldridge finished with seven points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Abigail Long scored a game- 25 points to lead the Cougars. Hannah Vallier came off the bench to score 13 points, Taylor Rickli added 12 points.
“I want our team to take all the positives away [from this game],” Wasielewski said. “They are very disappointed that they lost on their home court. That was something they were carrying the banner on. Kalamazoo Valley wanted it today. They closed out the final two minutes, we didn’t. It is just that simple. We can learn from that going into the last 10 days of conference and into the tournament.”
Turnovers, rebounds and free throws proved to be the difference in the Roadrunners’ loss to the Cougars.
Southwestern Michigan College committed 27 turnovers, were outrebounded 45-29 and were 16-of-20 from the free throw stripe compared to 24-of-40 for the visiting Cougars.
That helped Kalamazoo Valley open up a 43-35 halftime advantage on its way to the victory. The Cougars held a slim 49-43 advantage on the scoreboard in the final 20 minutes as Southwestern Michigan tried to mount a comeback.
“When we went up there [to KVCC] their pressure just stifled us,” said Roadrunner Coach Rodell Davis. “We weren’t able to do anything. So, what we did today was get out and run at them. We were able to get it out, get it over the top of the pressure and attack them. It served us well for a good portion of the ballgame. But playing that that pace does tire guys out and we are not used to playing at that pace.”
Davis said he was proud of his team of handling the Cougars’ pressure in stages.
“There were times where we would turn the ball over three or four times in a row, and that is how it snowballs and gets out of hand.”
The Roadrunners shot the ball better than the Cougars — 47 percent to 44 percent — while both teams made six 3-pointers and shot a similar percentage from beyond the arc. The real difference was at the free throw line where Kalamazoo Valley made more than Southwestern Michigan attempted.
Sean Burress (Harvey, Illinois) led five Roadrunners in double figures with 19 points. He also had five assists. Rashawn Bost (Evanston, Illinois) and Mark Williams (Chicago) both finished with 15 points. Williams grabbed a game-high 12 bounds, while Bost had a team-high six steals.
Niles’ Mari Nichols finished with 11 points. Nate Goins (Niles) added 10 points off the bench.
Myles Johnson led five Cougars in double digits with a game-high 25 points. Tavaz Showers added 15, Kobe Clark added 14, while Ramere Draper and Ashton Atwater both had 13 points.
The Roadrunners head to Lansing to take on the Stars in Western Conference action Wednesday night before wrapping up the regular-season home schedule against Glen Oaks Community College Saturday.