In the second game of the boys/girls doubleheader between the Morris Redskins and the Sycamore Spartans, Sycamore was able to grind out a Northern Illinois Big 12 East victory with a 44-36 win over the hosting Redskins.
Morris raced out to another 5-0 lead to start the game, but Sycamore forwards Devin Mottet and Ben Niemann helped lead the Spartans back into the game. The Spartans would lead 11-8 at the end of the first quarter behind six points from Mottet.
“I thought we allowed too many post touches, and that’s not always the post defender’s fault,” Morris head coach Joe Blumberg said. “More ball pressure would have helped. Weakside (defense) would have helped. I though we gave them some buckets they didn’t have to earn.”
Morris was able to even up the score at 17 going into the half off an offensive rebound and a putback by sophomore guard Evan Bjelland at the buzzer.
Going into the second half, Morris knocked down a pair of quick threes but fell prey to shot selection issues. The Redskins missed their next 11 shots from beyond the arc and would finish the game 6-for-22 from three-point land after hitting five of their first nine shots from distance.
“We think if we’re able to run our quick-hitters and our set plays, we should be able to get good shots for the guys. We also think we’ll get shots where we want, and then also be balanced offensively—and with our floor space—where we can get some rebounds. But, Sycamore took us out of all our set plays and forced us to run our motion offense, and we just weren’t working very well together tonight,” Blumberg said.
In the fourth quarter, a tip in of his own miss by Morris senior guard Jake Hogan would cut the Sycamore lead to 33-29 and a Jason Matteson free throw would eventually make it a one possession game. However, that’s when Sycamore started to knock down their free throws and put some distance between themselves and the Redskins.
Sycamore made 9-of-12 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. A late Ben Ortiz three and a foul gave Morris one last chance to cut the lead to a single possession with less than 20 seconds left, but Ortiz would go on to miss the free throw and Sycamore would go on to win 44-36.
Ortiz and Matteson would both score 11 points, leading Morris. Niemann would lead the Spartans with 13.