Southwestern Michigan falls to defending Division II national champion

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, January 4, 2024

DOWAGIAC — The Southwestern Michigan College men’s basketball team faced its second top five opponent in less than a month as the Roadrunners hosted South Suburban at the 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse Wednesday night.

The results were similar to when Southwestern Michigan faced National Junior College Athletic Association No. 1-ranked Parkland in earlier December. The Roadrunners keep the game close through the opening 20 minutes, but were unable to maintain that momentum in the second half as it fell to No. 5-ranked South Suburban 82-58.

Southwestern Michigan (8-5) kept the Bulldogs’ lead between eight and 12 points for much of the first half. The Roadrunners trailed South Suburban 36-24 at halftime.

“One of the things was we locked into what they like to do and we were able to stop it in the first half,” said SMC Coach Rodell Davis. “We really competed at the defensive end in the first half. We even rebounded well in the first half. But it was a tale of two halves. They came out and played a really good ballgame. That is a really good basketball team.”

The Bulldogs (10-1), who won the Division II national championship in 2022-23 with a perfect 33-0 record, return plenty of talent from that squad, including the nation’s leading scorer Jemel Jones.

South Suburban’s lone loss this season came in early December as Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference’s Kalamazoo Valley Community College upset the Bulldogs 83-78.

The Roadrunners were able to hold Jones to 21 points Wednesday night. He came into the game leading the nation once again in scoring at 32.4 points per game.

Prince Adams (Evanston, Illinois/Evanston Township High School) had a big game for Southwestern Michigan as he scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He was the lone SMC player to reach double figures. Aries Hull (Chicago/Bolingbrook High School) finished with nine points, while Mikel Forrest (Niles) added eight points.

The Roadrunners get right back on the court Saturday as they head to Grand Rapids Community College for an MCCAA non-divisional contest. Southwestern Michigan College opens its MCCAA Western Conference schedule Jan. 13 when it hosts Ancilla College.