Friday, February 28, 2020
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Basala stars as Mustangs top Graceland

Time and opportunity are slipping away for the Mount Mercy Mustangs as  they chase a spot in the Heart of America Conference playoffs, but  they won't go down without a fight.

They showed it Wednesday night.

Mount Mercy collected a crucial victory over Graceland, 93-84, in a  conference game at the Hennessey Recreation Center to keep their hopes  alive.

Bailey Basala led the way with five 3-pointers and 26 points as all  five starters scored in double figures. Davion Watson netted 18  points, Dennis McKinney 15, RoyShawn Webb 14 and Streeter McIlravy 13.

Graceland walloped Mount Mercy in their first meeting, 107-77, in late  November, but the Mustangs had the right answer this time.

The Mustangs, once 4-10 in the Heart of America Conference standings,  raised their record to 7-10 with their third straight victory while  averaging 99.3 points per game.

Only eight teams will make the conference playoffs in the 13-team  league. The Mustangs sit in ninth place, two games behind Missouri  Valley and Baker in the loss column with seven games remaining.

"We've got to keep winning," said Mount Mercy Coach Aaron Jennings.  "We've put ourselves in a  hole. We're in this hole and we have to  keep putting scoops in. And every win is a scoop."

Basala knows the clock is ticking, but he's not sure how many  victories it will take to make the playoffs.

"I'm not going to lie to you. I haven't even looked that far ahead  yet," he remarked. "All I know is we've got to win a lot of games and  not lose many."

Mount Mercy was clinging to a 74-73 lead with about seven minutes  remaining when they finally gave themselves a little breathing room  with a 9-0 run.

McKinney began the spurt with a driving layup, then Basala got fouled  on a 3-point shot and made all three free throws for a 79-73  advantage. Basala followed with two more foul shots and Tyler Kelley  finished the 9-0 spurt with two free throws to make it a 10-point game  at 83-73 with 4:55 left.

Kelley gave the Mustangs a 12-point cushion at 86-74 with a 3-pointer  from the corner with 3:43 remaining. Graceland pulled within six  points at 90-84 in the final minute, but Webb hit a free throw and  McKinney canned a pair to finish the scoring.

"We're playing the right way," said Jennings, happy his team turned  the tables on Graceland after the 30-point loss to the Yellowjackets  in their first meeting. "When we're putting the ball in the basket and  we're sharing the basketball, we're tough. This was another move in  the right direction.

"We're doing things together," he said. "We keep talking about playing  together, doing things for each other. And when we do, it shows."

Virgil Walker Jr. scored 23 points for Graceland (8-16, 5-13).

GRACELAND (84): Amanze Njoku-Ibe 4-8 0-0 8, Virgil Walker Jr. 10-12  2-2 23, Trey Newsham 5-11 0-0 13, Nick Coleman 6-14 5-7 19, Doc Self  5-11 0-0 12, Jordan Oliver 1-4 3-4 5, Joshua Gonzalez 0-2 0-0 0,  Dhimani Hernandez 1-3 1-2 4, Mekhi Rodgers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-66  11-15 84.

MOUNT MERCY (93): Dennis McKinney 6-15 2-2 15, Davion Watson 7-14 1-5  18, Bailey Basala 7-17 7-7 26, RoyShawn Webb 5-11 4-8 14, Streeter  McIlravy 3-8 4-4 13, Tyler Kelley 2-5 2-3 7, Keishum Thomas 0-1 0-0 0,  Julian Hehmann 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Reischauer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-71  20-29 93.

Halftime - Mount Mercy 44, Graceland 41. 3-point goals - Graceland  9-25 (Walker Jr. 1-2, Newsham 3-6, Coleman 2-6, Self 2-6, Oliver 0-1,  Gonzalez 0-1, Hernandez 1-2, Rodgers 0-1), Mount Mercy 13-36 (McKinney  1-7, Watson 3-6, Basala 5-12, McIlravy 3-7, Kelley 1-3, Thomas 0-1).

 

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