After winning its first nine games in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Webster University men’s basketball team lost two straight games before beating Principia College 76-67 on Feb. 7.
Webster lost at Westminster College on Feb. 1 and then to Eureka College at home on Feb. 4. Webster’s overall record stands at 10-11, and the Gorloks are 10-2 in the SLIAC.
Webster had a chance to increase its lead in the SLIAC over second-place Eureka, but lost 83-80 to the Red Devils in overtime at Grant Gymnasium.
“(The loss) hurts,” Webster coach Chris Bunch said. “You want to win all of them at home. In the loss column, we’re still one game ahead of Eureka and (MacMurray College), but it would have been nice to have a two-game cushion.”
Sophomore guard Cody Bradfisch hit a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to tie the game at 74-all. Eureka had a chance to win the game in regulation. After a full-court inbounds pass, the Red Devils missed a layup as time expired. Eureka went on to win the game in overtime.
“We were feeling in that five minutes we could maybe come back and rekindle what we had going in the first half,” Bradfisch said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t make enough plays there at the end to get it done. I thought for sure going into overtime and getting into overtime that we could get a win there.”
Sophomore forward Stefan Whittingham led Webster with 18 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Roman Robinson had 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Bradfisch scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Webster shot poorly from all over the court. Webster shot 39 percent from the field, 21 percent from 3-point range and 69 percent from the free-throw line.
“We’ve got to take better shots,” Bunch said. “We’ve got to pass up some of these shots we’re taking right now. We’ve got to be hungry for great shots. Not just a shot, but a great shot. Sometimes we get to playing and somebody goes and takes something that’s not there or tries to do something that’s not there.
“We have three or four possessions of those in a row and the next thing you know, you’ve went two or three minutes and haven’t scored. You allow teams to make runs on you when you do that. We just have to do a better job of taking better shots and making better decisions handling the ball.”
Westminster ended Webster’s undefeated SLIAC record on Feb. 1 in Fulton. The Gorloks were up six in the second half, but ended up losing to the Blue Jays 65-58.
“It was a pretty well-played game defensively by both teams,” Bunch said. “It came down to a couple mental mistakes on our part. We allowed it to get tied. They had some players hit some big shots. We missed some big shots then had to foul at the end.”
Whittingham had a double-double against Westminster, recording 19 points and 15 rebounds. Robinson scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Hollis Edwards recorded 14 points and three steals.
Webster bounced back after the two losses by defeating winless Principia.
In the win over the Panthers, Whittingham recorded his sixth double-double of the year with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Robinson had 13 points and six rebounds. Bradfisch led Webster with 21 points, the most he has scored in a game all season.
“The two losses have really been an eye opener for us,” Bradfisch said. “It kind of brought us back down. It’s kind of a reality check. We’re using it as a positive. We’re trying to build on it and get on the right track.
“We know if we lose any one of these last (four regular-season games) we could be in some trouble. Every one of these are big, and we’re going to do our best to try and get wins and have the tournament back at our place.”
With only four games left in the SLIAC, Webster controls its own destiny to win the SLIAC and host the conference tournament.
“You always want to be in the spot where, as long as you continue to win, it puts you where you want to be,” Bunch said. “At the same time, you have to win. If we win we’re in good shape. That’s great to say, but we have to win to make it happen.”
Webster travels to Spalding University (11-11 overall and 8-5 in the SLIAC) on Feb. 11 before hosting Greenville College (12-8, 7-5) on Feb. 15.