September 24, 2017

SLIAC men’s basketball preview: Webster takes on MacMurray

Just five days after a thrilling double-overtime win over MacMurray College, the Webster University men’s basketball team will play MacMurray in the first round of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. The semifinal game will be held on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at Grant Gymnasium.

Webster comes into the tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 13-3 SLIAC record. MacMurray beat Eureka 76-62 and clinched the No. 4 seed in its final regular-season game on Feb. 21. MacMurray finished with a 10-6 conference record.

“Some years, the fourth-place team might be a little off of the second- or third-place teams as far as talent,” Webster coach Chris Bunch said. “Sometimes that’s an advantage. This year, I don’t think that’s the case. There are about five or six teams in our league that are all pretty even, and the scores reflect that.”

MacMurray, Greenville College and Spalding University all finished with 10-6 SLIAC records. MacMurray was awarded the No. 4 seed by virtue of a tiebreaker with Greenville.

Webster swept the season series against MacMurray. The Gorloks beat the Highlanders 74-65 at home on Jan. 12, but needed two overtimes in an 88-81 victory at MacMurray on Feb. 18.

“MacMurray is big,” Bunch said. “They get inside more. Their game will be slow. Defensively, they’re going to be physical. They’re going to try and play good half-court, man-to-man or zone.”

While having home-court advantage in the SLIAC tournament is an advantage, Bunch doesn’t think it will make a significant difference.

“I think it’s an advantage, but it’s not the be-all end-all,” Bunch said. “It’s an advantage for your kids just for the fact they’re in their usual routine. You’re not having to travel; you’re not having to stay overnight; you’re not eating out.”

If Webster beats MacMurray, the Gorloks will advance to play the winner of the Westminster-Eureka game on Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. in Grant Gymnasium.

“The teams are really close in talent,” Bunch said. “It’s going to be a tough two wins for anybody to get.”

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