The Brescia Men's Basketball team participated this weekend in a classic held by fellow KIAC member Asbury University. In their first game of the event, the Bearcats took on the Shock of Washington Adventist University, an NAIA Division I Independent. Brescia wasted no time, coming out of the gate with intensity and jumping out to an eleven-point lead by the halftime break, 36-25. For most of the second half, the Bearcats were able to keep WAU from ever truly threatening, stretching the lead out as to as much as 15 before withstanding one final Shock run that cut the lead down to 6 before Brescia took the lead back beyond double digits. A couple of late turnovers and WAU baskets closed to the final margin of 7, as the Bearcats claimed the victory with the 81-74 win.
The Shock entered the game averaging 99 points per game, but were held 25 points below their average by a stingy Brescia defense that limited them to just 25-67 (37%) from the field and only 2-11 (18%) from three point range. Brian Bridgeforth led the WAU effort with 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Bearcats flashed the balance that has been their hallmark under Coach Josh Gibson, placing four players in double-figures. Austin Morris led the way with 22 points, followed closely by Trey Howard with 20 points of his own. Dillon Geralds scored 10 points while leading the team in rebounds with 7. Jermain Langley was the final Bearcat in double-digits, recording his first double-double of the season while scoring 11 points and dishing out 12 assists. The team shot 26-48 (54%) from the floor and 8-19 (42%) from behind the arc.
On Saturday, things didn't get any easier for Brescia as they matched up against another NAIA Division I opponent in Mid-South Conference member St. Catherine College. The game was a slugfest that saw 51 total fouls called between the two teams, leading to 62 combined free throw attempts. The first half was back and forth the whole way, with SCC taking a 37-34 lead into the break. In the second stanza, the Patriots made a run and extended their lead to as much as 13 with 6:00 remaining. With foul trouble plaguing many of the veteran players, a group of freshmen and sophomore Bearcats breathed new life into the game, cutting the lead to a single possession and allowing Brescia the opportunity to tie the game when the older players returned with less than 3:00 remaining in the contest. The teams traded baskets down the stretch and Kyle Nixon got off a clean look at a 3 as the buzzer sounded. However, the shot narrowly missed, leaving the teams tied at 75 at the end of regulation.
St. Catherine struck first in OT, taking a 2-point lead on the first possession. Neither team could seem to get a stop, and the Patriots answered every bucket from Brescia with one of their own until finally, with less than a minute remaining, the Bearcats forced a huge shot clock violation. On the ensuing possession, Tavon Johnson attacked the lane and hit a crucial jumper in the paint with 40 seconds remaining to give Brescia their first lead since early in the first half, 87-85. SCC attacked quickly and drew a foul, but split the pair of free throws to cut the lead to 87-86 with 35 seconds left. Remarkably, the two teams then traded dangerous turnovers, with Brescia mishandling the ball with 24 seconds remaining and then St. Catherine doing the same thing just 12 seconds later. Finally, the Bearcats settled down and Kyle Nixon was fouled with 9 seconds on the clock. The senior calmly sank both free throws and the Patriots missed a tying three-pointer just before time expired, giving Brescia the hard-earned victory.
Emory Bennett was one of five players to score 10+ points for the Patriots, leading the way with 18. However, Brescia placed five players in double-digits as well, led again by a 24-point, 8-rebound effort from Austin Morris. Trey Howard and Dillon Geralds each scored 14 points and Kyle Nixon had 12. Tavon Johnson scored 10 points of his own and led the Bearcat effort with 6 assists. For the game, St. Catherine shot 28-65 (43%) from the field and 7-25 (28%) from three-point range. Brescia ended the contest shooting 31-63 (49%) overall and 8-26 (31%) from behind the arc.
Brescia returns to action on Tuesday, November 17th as they travel to Wilberforce University for a 7:30pm (eastern) tip.