Cardinals fall victim to late Oilers run
Parker's 22 not enough as 10-0 run by #7 Findlay drops Cardinals back below .500 overall, 3-5 in GLIAC
January 17, 2005 —
Unable to capitalize on a comefrom-behind victory two days prior, the Saginaw Valley State University men's basketball team lost to the visiting Findlay Oilers Saturday, Jan. 15.
The Oilers, ranked seventh in the Division II national poll, used a 10-0 run from 6:49 to 4:31 in the second half and held the Cardinals to just five points after that to win 71-60. The Cardinals were able to take a lead after trailing closely throughout most of the game on a thunderous dunk by junior Mekele Cooper at 13:18 of the second half, and increased the lead to five with 11 minutes left before Findlay made their comeback.
"They were just tougher than we were," said Coach Jamie Matthews. "We were in a position to win, but we just weren't tough enough on offense. We had a chance to take the game by the throat and increase that five point lead to eight or nine. That was a more important stretch of the game than their run."
Matthews said part of the reason the three-time defending South Division champion Oilers were able to make such a run was the Cardinals' inability to make a play when it was needed the most.
"I want them to play more aggressively," Matthews said, "but there is insecurity there. We don't have a playmaker that we can give the ball to in crunch time, so during runs like that we get shaken and everyone slows things down and looks around."
One Cardinals player looking to take the step up to be the team playmaker is senior Anthony Parker. In his sixth game back from a broken arm, Parker scored 22 points, shooting 8-of-21 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line, the Cardinals only free throw attempts of the game.
"I'm looking for more from AP," Matthews said, referring to Parker's nickname. "We need him to make plays down the stretch.
"But I applaud his effort - he's just two weeks removed from a cast," Matthews said after the Cardinals' 84-77 overtime victory over Ashland Jan. 13. "It's hard to fit back in, but he's the first guy in the gym, and the last one to leave. He'll be back to seeing the basket as big as an ocean before long."
Parker and the Cardinals' five attempts from the charity stripe were dwarfed by the 18 attempts by the Oilers, who made 13 of their attempts. Oilers Senior Marwan Gaines shot 6-10 from the line himself; the powerful forward finished with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the day.
"We just didn't stand up to him," Matthews said of 6'6", 210-pound Gaines. "He simply had abigger will to get to the basket."
The Cardinals defense did exactly what they set out to do, as the Oilers came in with a 7-0 GLIAC record by using numerous ball screens and high-low passing to get easy buckets on offense. The Cardinals' perimeter defenders put an end to that, but Matthews said the defense was only able to maintain its pressure for the first 20 seconds on the shot clock. That's when the Oilers would give the ball to Gaines or their 6'8" leading scorer, Sophomore Chris Commons, in the post and let them go to work.
Commons, who came in averaging 16 points per game, made only 3-of-16 shots from the field, but senior Matt Metzger scored 11 points more than his average, pouring in 21 points on 8-14 shooting.
"It's always a focus to stop what they want to do," Matthews said of the Oilers' offensive philosophy. "Each possession we guarded for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock, but then things broke down and we weren't aggressive enough."
Foul trouble also hampered the Cardinals, as Parker committed three in the first half, and senior Kenny Nether had to be taken out with 15 minutes left in the second half with four fouls.
"That was just a result of him not being ready to go," Matthews said of Nether, who was also only able to play one minute in the first half two days earlier against Ashland. "AP was able to play with his fouls in the second half."
Against Ashland, the Cardinals were able to overcome a five-point halftime deficit, and outscore the Eagles by 12 points in the second half and five-minute overtime to win.
The Cardinals overcame a strong performance from Eagles forward Justin Brown, who had game highs of 26 points and 12 rebounrds.
Nether was able to play the entire second half and overtime, scoring 18 points in 26 minutes of play. Parker added 16 points and four assists, while Sophomore Sydney McDaniel scored 13 points in a game-high 38 minutes and senior center David Williams added 10 points.
Although the Cardinals were able to split the weekend series, there wasn't much Matthews could find to be happy about after the loss.
"I'm not happy at all," he said. "We play in a terrific league, as good as there is in the country. We have been in position to control our own destiny this season, but we're just not aggressive enough."
The loss dropped the Cardinals to 8-9 overall and 3-5 in the GLIAC. Those three conference wins have come in the last five games for SVSU, which travels to 4-11 (1-6 GLIAC) Lake Superior State Saturday, Jan. 22 for a 3:30 tipoff.