December 5, 2020

Men’s basketball wins three straight, will host SLIAC tournament

Webster University freshman guard Ahmad Smith shoots over three Fontbonne University defenders during the Gorloks’ 71-52 win over the Griffins on Feb. 21 at Grant Gymnasium. Smith scored eight points on 3 of 5 shooting. PHOTO BY GALE WHITEHEAD.

The Webster University men’s basketball team clinched St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title with three straight wins to close out the regular season.

Webster’s wins against Greenville College, MacMurray College and Fontbonne University secured the Gorloks as the No. 1 seed in the SLIAC tournament, which will be held in Grant Gymnasium on Feb. 23 and 25.

Webster capped off its regular season with three straight wins. The Gorloks defeated Fontbonne 71-52 on Feb. 21.

Bradfisch recorded a double-double, as he led Webster with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Bradfisch was 7 of 12 from the field, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Whittingham scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and tallied four assists.

Eureka College, who was tied with Webster for first place with an 11-3 conference record, lost to Westminster College 76-74 on Feb. 18. Eureka’s loss, coupled with Webster’s 88-81 double overtime win over the MacMurray Highlanders on Feb. 18, allowed the Gorloks to clinch the No. 1 seed for the SLIAC tournament.

In Webster’s game against MacMurray, the score was tied 65-65 at the end of regulation, and 79-79 after the first overtime. The Gorloks outscored the Highlanders 9-2 in the second overtime to seal the victory.

“In 24 years of coaching high school and college, I’ve had a lot of overtime games,” Webster coach Chris Bunch said. “Anybody can beat anybody in a five-minute stretch. It’s hard because it’s been a long game, and they’ve played through a tough 40 minutes and then one overtime period.

“You’re just trying to get them to focus out there because they’re tired, worn out and a lot of things happened over the course of the game — good and bad. I thought they did a good job of that in both overtimes.”

Sophomore forward Stefan Whittingham led Webster in scoring with a career-high 31 points to go along with seven rebounds. Junior forward Roman Robinson scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win. Junior guard Cody Bradfisch recorded 13 points and three steals.

“I just didn’t really want to lose,” Whittingham said. “I knew that the better I played, we would win the game. I just played as hard as I could.”

Webster’s win over MacMurray came three days after the Gorloks defeated the Greenville Panthers 85-72 on Feb. 15 at Grant Gymnasium. It was the Gorloks first back-to-back win streak since beating Greenville and Fontbonne on Jan. 18 and 21, respectively.

Webster trailed Greenville 28-26 at halftime, but outscored the Panthers 59-44 in the second half.

“I think we did a really good job defensively for the most part against a very high-scoring team,” Bunch said.

Robinson and Whittingham both recorded double-doubles in the win over Greenville. Robinson had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Whittingham recorded 19 points and 15 rebounds.

After the loss at Spalding University on Feb. 11, Webster’s third in four games, Bunch and his team knew they would have to win their final three games in order to clinch the No. 1 seed and host the SLIAC tournament.

“I might have said a couple times we really need to win these games or whatever,” Bunch said. “You really don’t want to put a whole lot of pressure on them in that situation. I kept telling them we need to play better. As a coach, you get frustrated because you see guys make mistakes and you’re like, ‘Oh, gosh. It’s February and we’re still doing that?’ You want them to be fresh both mentally and physically. I didn’t really try to make it a do-or-die kind of thing.”

The Gorloks responded and will host MacMurray on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at Grant Gymnasium.

“It’s really great to know we’re going to have home-court advantage,” Whittingham said. “That means the fans will be there to support us. It’s not like we’ll be going to a territory we’re not used to. We’ll be able to play more comfortably at home than on the road.”

Webster finished the regular season 13-12 overall and 13-3 in the SLIAC. The Gorloks are the defending SLIAC tournament champions, as they beat Westminster College in the title game last season.

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