Stellar Second Half Defense Lifts CMU Men Over Peru State
PERU, NE -- Central Methodist allowed only seven points during a stretch of 7:46 in the second half Saturday to pull away for a 73-62 victory at Peru State (Neb.) in Heart of America Athletic Conference men's basketball play.
Trailing 49-48 with 10:14 to play in the game, the Eagles (13-10, 6-5 HAAC) suffocated the Bobcats (9-13, 2-9 HAAC) on defense for nearly eight minutes, forcing five turnovers, including four in the span of 1:17. Peru State went scoreless for a span of 3:33 midway through the second period.
"It was a very good team effort," Central Methodist coach Jeff Sherman said. "I was very pleased with the entire team's passion and togetherness today."
Central Methodist opened up a 17-12 advantage with 12:11 on the clock in the first half following a three by Robert Mason. Peru State answered with a 16-2 run, capped by a Justin Jones trey to give his team a 28-19 edge with 6:06 to go in the first half.
The Eagles responded with a run of their own, scoring nine unanswered points, including five by guard Melvin Tillman. Michael Banks, Jr. tied the game at 28-all on a free throw with 5:12 left in the half.
The rest of the first period featured five lead changes and no team holding an upper hand greater than two points. Central Methodist's Alex Barner made the back end of two free throw attempts, but the Bobcats took a 36-35 advantage into halftime.
The Green and Black trailed by four points, 48-44, when Derek Kitch scored consecutive buckets to tie the contest with 11:06 to go. After Peru State's Richard Oppitz made one free throw, the Eagles regained the lead for good when a Cody Anderson steal turned into a conventional three-point play, making the score 51-49 in favor of Central Methodist. Elliott Black scored seven of his game-high 21 points over the next 4:58, as the visitor's lead swelled to 11 points twice down the stretch.
Black was a force all day, pumping in a double-double for the Eagles. The senior forward had 21 points and 13 rebounds, the most for the Saint Louis native while wearing the Green and Black.
Anderson scored a career-high 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor while also going a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. The Springfield, Mo., product previously scored a career-high 11 points on Thursday against No. 19 Evangel (Mo.). Anderson also dished out three assists and had a game-high two steals in Saturday's triumph.
Tillman chipped in 13 points and six rebounds. Mason finished with nine points. Barner had five points and seven rebounds.
"Elliott was awesome with his double-double performance," Sherman commented. "Cody filled in beautifully for Eric Franklin, who was out with a concussion. Alex came up big on the boards and drew three huge charges in the game. It was most certainly one of our finest road performances of the season."
Derrick Williams led all Peru State scorers with 15 points. Oppitz and Jones added 13 and 10, respectively.
The Eagles shot 44.3 percent (27-of-61) from the field, while the Bobcats posted a modest 43.9 percent (25-of-57) clip. However, the difference in the game was free throw shooting, where Central Methodist hit 15-of-19 (78.9 percent). Peru State was only 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from the charity stripe.
Central Methodist returns to Puckett Fieldhouse on Saturday, Feb. 2, for a conference clash against No. 17 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.). The Eagles will sponsor two promotions, Bill Holman Day and the first annual Blow Pop Game, with tip-off set for 4 p.m. CT.