The Webster University men’s basketball team took an early beating in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, starting 2-3 with a top-4 spot in the conference slipping away. However, a final-seconds, game-winning shot, a rivalry game win and a blowout on the road now tie the Gorloks for fourth in the conference.
On Jan. 15, Webster trailed SLIAC foe Westminster College (Mo.) for the entire game, but the Gorloks managed to pull within 2 points in the final 20 seconds of the game. Sophomore guard Ahmad Smith was given the green light from coach Chris Bunch, and Smith sunk a 3-pointer with only 6 seconds remaining.
The game-winning play didn’t end there.
As Westminster moved the ball back down the court for a chance at redemption, standing in the way and denying one of the Blue Jays’ top scorers was 6-foot-6-inch junior center Jarrod Huskey.
“We were only ahead 6 seconds,” Bunch said. “But it was the right 6 seconds to be ahead.”
The victory completed a stretch of three straight games against the preseason top-4 ranked teams in the SLIAC. Before that streak, Webster took consecutive losses to Eureka College (Ill.), 72-64 on Jan. 5, MacMurray College (Ill.), 71-69 on Jan. 8 and Spalding University (Ky.), 79-49 on Jan. 10.
The Gorlok stars from the defeat of the Jays said they can’t agree on which play was the most important.
“Easily Ahmad’s three,” Huskey said. “With the three my block doesn’t happen, so easily (it’s) his three.”
Smith gave the edge back to Huskey’s block.
“(It’s) because then they would have scored, and we would have lost,” Smith said.
Bunch said it was a “dead heat” and wasn’t able to break the tie.
As Huskey’s confidence begins to flare, he said he believes he has earned the right of a nickname to compliment his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities. Bunch said with a few more big performances, he will consider it.
Six games ago, Huskey may not have even been in the game at that point in the season.
His larger role now as the biggest threat in the paint for Webster was one he first shared with 6-foot-6-inch sophomore center Aaron Griffin. Griffin transferred from Rust College (Miss.) before the 2012-2013 academic year.
However, due to academic ineligibility starting with the new year, Griffin has been forced to sit out for the remainder of the season (see page 8 for more information on what an athlete must do if he or she is deemed academically ineligible).
“It was a big loss, and he was really starting to play well,” Bunch said. “It happens every now and then, but he is trying to get back on track and hopefully as of August of next year he will be ready to play.”
Griffin led the team in all rebounding categories and was a top scorer on the team. In Griffin’s final game with the team this season, he recorded a double-double with 21 rebounds and 20 points in a 12-point loss at Rust.
“There’s definitely more pressure,” Huskey said. “But it’s not just on me, it’s on the whole team, and we have to pick up each other and play with the guys who are here.”
Without Griffin’s average of 9.7 rebounds per game, Webster is still out-rebounding its opponents as the Gorloks have averaged 1 more rebound per game than their opponents. Huskey and senior forward Roman Robinson now hold averages of 5.9 and 6 rebounds per game, respectively.
In their latest game at Principia College (Ill.) on Saturday, Jan. 19, Huskey recorded his career high in rebounds with 17 in a 26-point stomping of the Panthers.
The Gorloks will travel to MacMurray on Wednesday, Jan. 23. They look for redemption after the 2-point loss at home earlier in the season.