The Sporting Insider: Webster Weathers the Storm

Josh Sellmeyer
Sports Editor

Shortly after the Webster University men’s basketball team’s shocking loss to Blackburn College, The Journal’s other sports columnist, Alex King, hit the nail on the head in describing the game: “It was the perfect storm.”
No one saw the Blackburn Beavers’ 74-71 victory coming. How could they have? Entering the Feb. 9 game at Grant Gymnasium, the Gorloks had all the momentum and advantages a team could want, and the Beavers seemingly had no chance. To recap:
•    Before falling to Blackburn, Webster hadn’t lost a game since the middle of December. The Gorloks won 12 straight games by an average margin of nearly 14 points a game.
•    Webster entered the game with a 10-1 record in the SLIAC and a 15-4 record overall. Blackburn was 1-11 in SLIAC play and 4-17 overall.
•    Webster already crushed the Beavers by 31 earlier in the season. On Jan. 4, Webster traveled to Carlinville, Ill., and beat Blackburn 94-63.
•    Webster has dominated Blackburn in their recent matchups. The Gorloks beat the Beavers seven straight times, dating back to the 2006-2007 season.
•    Blackburn’s two top scorers, Julian Lott (14.3 ppg) and Madison Medley (11.1 ppg), didn’t suit up for the game.
But that’s the beauty of college basketball. On any given night, the improbable can happen. Led by Chris Williams’ unbelievable 32-point effort, the Beavers pulled off the unthinkable, leaving the Gorloks at a crossroads. It was gut-check time.
Webster had one day to prepare for their next game on Feb. 11 versus Spalding University, which, because of the Blackburn loss, has to be viewed as Webster’s most important game of the season so far. Spalding entered the game sporting a 13-7 overall record. The Golden Eagles were tied with Webster atop the SLIAC standings with a 10-2 record. They were not to be taken lightly.
Under the pressure and circumstances, many teams would have folded. They would have blamed their coaches or teammates or fans. But not the Gorloks. Not this team. Not this time.
Webster beat Spalding 61-52 to reclaim sole possession of first place in the SLIAC. The nine-point win isn’t indicative of how well the Gorloks played, though. In all phases of the game, Webster trumped the Golden Eagles.
The Gorloks out-toughed, out-worked and out-executed Spalding. Webster got to the free-throw line 30 times compared to Spalding’s eight. The Gorloks pounded the ball inside to freshman center Jarrod Huskey, who scored 19 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
Webster’s intensity won’t show in the box scores, but it was clear they wanted to win more than Spalding. It’s that desire that could carry this team further than any other Webster men’s basketball squad has ever gone.
Webster will be one of the favorites to win the SLIAC postseason tournament, and the Gorloks certainly have the look of a team that could make a run in the NCAA tournament. Webster has shown that they can respond from a punch in the mouth. Now, it’s their turn to do the heavy hitting.

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