Pictured Above: DJ Wallace, senior forward, attacks the basket for a layup against the Ottawa Braves in the first round of the KCAC tournament. (Cale Eirich/ Staff Photographer)
The KCAC tournament tipped off tonight as (1) Southwestern faced (8) Ottawa in a tightly contested battle. The Moundbuilders won a close game 75-73.
This game wasn’t a surprise as both regular season games ended in Southwestern victories, but with a combined nine point advantage between the two games.
“Being grateful, knowing that last year we were just fighting for a chance to get to nationals,” exclaimed DJ Wallace, senior forward. “We came up short, so we don’t take anything lightly, especially me as a senior knowing this could be my last game, so why not, why can’t we go and win this tournament?”
Wallace finished the night with 27 points and eight rebounds. His impact was felt by more than just leading both teams in scoring. Wallace hit the game winning shot, a layup with 2.7 seconds remaining in the game. He wasn’t done their, on the ensuing possession Ottawa inbounded the ball and drove to the basket for the win. Wallace played sound defense and blocked the shot as time expired.
Cameron Hunt, junior guard, looks to shoot while having an open look at the basket. (Cale Eirich/ Staff Photographer)
“It was DJ who talked to us and said lets run this play to me,” Matt O’Brien, head basketball coach, explained, “DJ played great tonight and he went up strong and went right around him, and he made a great play.”
A main reason as to why the Braves were able to stay with the Moundbuilders as much as they could was because they shined on the glass, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Ottawa had 19 of their 44 rebounds be offensive, second chance opportunities. Whereas, Southwestern only had seven offensive rebounds.
“Well we were gutty, and when you get beat that bad on the boards usually your team just stops playing defense,” O’Brien said, “Our team continued to try and get stops and if we could ever get the rebound we would be in good shape.”
The Moundbuilders leading scorer for the regular season, Cameron Hunt, junior guard, had a tough night shooting only making three of his 11 attempts. However, he did finish with 16 points as he was efficient from the free throw line.
LaJuan Hardy, freshman guard, shoots a three pointer over the defender. (Cale Eirich/ Staff Photographer)
“I just try to keep it simple, I know I have good teammates,” Hunt said, “If I’m not always going I know I always have guys that will go for me, so I try not to put too much pressure on myself”
The one seeded Moundbuilders will take on number four Spires of Saint Mary on Saturday at 7pm in historic Stewart Field House. Preparing to face the Spires, Coach O’Brien made the game plan clear.
“We’re just going to try and get a rebound,” O’Brien said bluntly.
Tanner Carlson is a senior majoring in communication. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.