Gorloks get by MacMurray for 12th win in a row
Highlanders rally late, but Webster men’s basketball team holds on for eight-point victory
By Josh Sellmeyer
On Dec. 1 last year, the Webster University men’s basketball team lost their conference opener to MacMurray College, 73-69. Now, a little over two months later, the Gorloks have gotten their revenge.
Webster defeated MacMurray 75-67 on Feb. 5 at the Grant Gymnasium. The Highlanders are the only St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team to have defeated the Gorloks this season, but they couldn’t pull the trick a second time.
The win was the 12th consecutive for the Webster men, who are 15-4 overall. The Gorloks remain in sole possession of first place in the SLIAC with a record of 10-1. The loss dropped MacMurray to 8-12 overall (7-5 in SLIAC play).
At the end of the regular season the top four teams advance to the SLIAC post-season tournament. Webster would host the tourney if the season ended today, and their first round match-up would be against the fourth-seeded Highlanders (who would qualify for the tournament because 10-2 Spalding University won’t be eligible for post-season play this year).
“It’s a tough team,” said Webster coach Chris Bunch. “They’ve got a losing record overall, but the losses they’ve had have been close and to the good teams in the conference. It was a good win to get — they’ve been a thorn in our side. They’ve beaten us the last three times.”
The Highlanders came close to defeating the Gorloks a fourth consecutive time. Webster took a 34-26 edge into the half, and the Gorloks were able to extend their lead to 13 with just over three minutes left in the contest.
Six straight points by MacMurray cut Webster’s lead to seven, and the score stood at 66-59 with one minute and 15 seconds remaining. Webster hit five of its eight free throws in the ensuing 45 seconds, but the Highlanders kept battling.
A jump shot by MacMurray guard CJ McClellan brought the Highlanders to within four with 28 ticks left. Webster managed to hit four of its next six throws, and coupled with a solid defensive effort in the final half-minute, the Gorloks sealed the eight-point victory.
“We did a lot of good things,” said junior guard DeAarron Henderson. “We were more patient than we have been in the past couple of games. Coach (Bunch) has been preaching that we play within the offense, and we did that today; we relied on each other.”
Seniors Scott Restoff and Drew Moore scored 17 and 14 points respectively and led a balanced Webster scoring attack. Seven Gorloks scored at least seven points.
Senior forward Nick Jones was shaken up early in the second half when he tried to convert a layup over a MacMurray defender, but landed on his shoulder and hand. Although he did not return to the game, Bunch said Jones was available if needed.
With each victory, the Gorloks inch closer to the Webster all-time winning streak of 15, which was set during the 2007-2008 season. With the winning streak getting longer, the target on the team’s back gets bigger.
“Honestly, no one really pays attention to (the streak),” Henderson said. “We’re just kind of following after coach and getting ready for the next game. Of course we all are aware of it, but everyone is just going to work, the only thing we have to do.”
Bunch said the best way to avoid the pressure that comes with a long winning streak is to avoid talking about the streak with his players.
“I don’t bring it up,” Bunch said. “I know some people will say, ‘Oh they’re just feeling the pressure of the streak.’ Win or lose, I always tell them after the game that tomorrow we’ve got to put that in the rearview mirror. I kid them all the time about how you can’t drive down the road in life looking in the rearview mirror — you’ll wreck. Once we come into the next day, we’ve got to be looking forward at who’s up next and what we got to do.”
Up next for the Gorloks are back-to-back home games on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. against Blackburn College and Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. versus Spalding University Blackburn is 4-17 overall and Spalding is 13-7.