Pictured Above: LaJuan Hardy, freshman guard, dribbles past the defender to drive the lane and score. (Tessa Castor/File Photo)
The Southwestern Moundbuilders will represent in the KCAC championship game at Hartman Arena in Wichita for the seventh straight year after defeating Saint Mary, 102-80 in the semifinals.
Between the women’s and men’s basketball teams, one of the two teams have played on championship Monday. This year the men will go for their third straight season, but look for their first win in that three year span.
“Finishing the job,” DJ Wallace, senior forward, claimed, “That’s the only difference, and taking this opportunity seriously, I think with last year we took it for granted.”
Wallace finished his last home game of his Southwestern career with a double-double, 22 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, the Moundbuilders wanted to improve from their game Thursday night against Ottawa in rebounding. They did just that tonight against Saint Mary ending the game with a 47-19 rebound advantage.
Wallace, reads the defense as he determines whether or not he is going to pass or shoot. (Tessa Castor/Staff Photographer)
“That was the message going into the game,” Matt O’Brien, head basketball coach, said, “I was all over our fives (centers) to get on the boards and be a factor, and they certainly stepped up and did that.”
The depth of Southwestern proved to be another strength in their win outscoring Saint Mary’s bench 46-28. Due to the offensive performance from LaJuan Hardy, freshman guard, ending the night with 22 points, four assist, and adding five rebounds as well.
“I try and see what the first team isn’t doing, so I can pump the second team up and get them going,” Hardy explained, “We have to keep the same intensity that the first team is bringing, and I just believe that the second team is going to put their trust in me.”
The (1) Southwestern Moundbuilders will face off against (2) Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles on Monday night with a scheduled tip off time at 8 pm. The two teams split the regular season series both winning on the road. A neutral court will decide who will win the season series and the KCAC championship.
Jacob Horsch, senior guard, looks for an open teammate to pass to against the tight defense. (Tessa Castor/ File Photo)
Admittedly, Southwestern has shown struggles against the bigs for Oklahoma Wesleyan. Josh Wilchcombe, junior forward, put up a double-double in his last performance against the Moundbuilders showing for 24 points and 12 rebounds.
“They have outstanding talent,” O’Brien said, “Wilchcombe is ginormous, he is a lot bigger and stronger than anyone else in the league. They’re loaded.”
For the Moundbuilders, the best way to counteract size is with speed by outrunning the larger players. The Eagles are coming off a back-to-back, after their quarterfinal game was postponed due to weather and will be playing their third game in four days.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall you know,” Hardy expressed. “I got to chop them down to my size, but guys that big don’t like to run so we have to run, run, run.”
The championship game will be played at Hartman Arena near Wichita at 8 pm, and will be televised on ESPN 3.
Tanner Carlson is a senior majoring in communication. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.