by Ed Beach
Southwest Baptist held off a late Drury rally and earned their first win over the Panthers since Nov. 14, 2011, as the Bearcats prevailed 82-74 at the Meyer Sports Center in Bolivar on Monday.
The loss dropped Drury to 11-5 and 4-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference while Southwest Baptist went to 13-3 and 6-2 in the league.
With the game tied at 49-49 midway through the second half, the Bearcats outscored Drury 15-6 in a four-minute span to take their biggest lead of the game, 66-55, with 6:35 remaining. The Panthers battled back and three minutes later pulled within two, 71-69, on a lay-up by Brandon Emmert.
The Bearcats got their next three points on free throws, and a Quinn Nelson three-pointer put SBU back ahead by six, 77-71, with 1:52 left. Southwest Baptist held off Drury the rest of the way to win by eight.
“I thought we really tried defensively in the first half,” said Drury head coach Steve Hesser. “In the second half two things happened: we couldn’t catch a pass, and they got to the free throw line. They shot 38 free throws to our 18…and I’m not saying it’s bad officiating, it’s because they were the more aggressive team. They made 15 more free throws than us, and we lose by eight – that’s the basketball game.”
SBU shot 50 percent in the game, going 24 for 48 and was 27 for 38 from the foul line. The Panthers were 26 of 60 from the field for 43 percent and hit 12 of their 18 free throw attempts.
Cal Hartley led Drury with 20 points and put up 17 of them in the first half. Conley Garrison added 12 points with seven assists.
Brady Smith poured in 30 points for the Bearcats to lead all scorers.