The KU men’s basketball team was defeated in their first two games this past weekend in the PSAC/WVIAC Challenge at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center in Erie, Pa.
Although both games were close up to the final minute, the Golden Bears were downed by West Virginia State 76-72 on Friday, Nov. 9 and lost to Concord 79-73 a day later.
In game one against West Virginia State, KU went into halftime up 39-38 with junior guard Tyler Brooks leading all scorers with 13.
The teams battled in the second half, and with 2:29 left in the game, they were tied at 69. After a foul by Ryan Connelly West Virginia’s Juan Johnson sank his second free throw to put the team up by one. A technical foul by the bench was called on the play, and Kendrick Ward was good from the free-throw stripe and West Virginia led 71-69.
With just under two minutes left to play, KU’s Abdul King made one of his two free throws to put the team within one. After a West Virginia lay-up and a Tracy Peal turnover, Johnson made a jumper at the other end of the court, putting West Virginia up 75-70 with 25 seconds left to play.
Seven seconds later, Golden Bear senior Micah Fraction hit a jumper to cut the lead to three. On the next possession, Fraction stole the ball from Anton Hutchins but missed a three-pointer to tie the game. The Golden Bears got the offensive rebound to give Fraction one more chance from three, but couldn’t connect to send the game into overtime.
Fraction led all scorers in the game with 19 points, but he also had five turnovers.
Brooks had his first double-double of the season, with 14 points and 15 boards. He was a perfect 1-1 from behind the three-point line.
Tracy Peal also recorded a double-double in his college debut for the Golden Bears, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets leading scorer was Howard Douglass III, with 15 points.
Similarly, game two of the weekend went into halftime with KU leading Concord, 46-42.
However, Concord rallied back in the second half, and the game was tied at 68 with 4:29 left to play. The Mountain Lions outscored the Golden Bears 11-5 for the remainder of the game to hand KU their second consecutive loss.
Concord’s big men dominated the glass, out rebounding KU 31-19. Their bench play was also a factor in outscoring the Golden Bears 34-10.
Fraction was the leading scorer for the second straight game, with 28 points. He also handed out five assists. Brooks had another good game, scoring 17 points and grabbing six boards.
Concord’s Damien Tunstalle (19), Jordan Davis (16) and Jake Bichoff (11) all scored in double digits.
Despite the two losses, the season is still young for the Golden Bears, and with their depth of talent, it’s only a matter of time before they start a winning streak of their own. Their next contest is against Wilmington University on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., in Wilmington, De.
By Billy Felo