The importance of 6-8 center Reed Rowell to the McPherson College men’s basketball team was never more evident than Tuesday night at the Sport Center.
With 6:37 left in the game and the Bulldogs holding a narrow 60-59 lead over Ottawa, the Braves’ big man John O’con wheeled to the basket to take on a mass of humanity. In the scrum, Rowell was sent into the wall and the result was an apparent sprained ankle.
O’con scored on that play and it set off a chain reaction of points for the Braves, who closed the game on a 21-12 run for an 80-72 victory.
Rowell had been a tower of power inside for the Bulldogs with 11 rebounds against the muscular Braves, who looked as though they had been locked in the weight room and the key had been thrown away.
It was a tough loss for the Bulldogs, now 1-2 in the KCAC and 3-5 overall, and more than likely they’ll be without Rowell this weekend for two games in Nebraska against highly touted teams York and College of the Ozarks. The Bulldogs’ next KCAC action is Nov. 3 at Kansas Wesleyan.
The Bulldogs, who had overcome an eight-point deficit in the second half to lead by as many as four, were starting to teeter just about the time Rowell was hurt.
“Before he got hurt, we had fought back to take the lead and I don’t know how many possessions where we had a three- or five-point lead where we could have extended that lead and just didn’t do it,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said.
Ottawa went on a 14-2 run right after Rowell went out as the Bulldogs seemed shaken by the loss of their big man. The lead grew to as many as 13 as the Bulldogs took some ill-advised shots in an attempt to climb back into it.
Chris Crook led Mac with 15 points, one more than Ryan O’Hara. Chris Lowe had 11 of his 12 points off the bench in the first half, as Mac trailed 37-33. Ramon Martinez finished with a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Top scorer Dee Roberts, who came in averaging just under 16 points a game, was just 2 of 12 from the field and scored eight points.
O’con led OU with 17 points, while Marshon Norfleet returned after a five-game injury absence to score 15. Preston Oakes added 12 and Hollis Mitchell scored 10.
Mac (72) — Martinez 12, O’Hara 14, Rowell 7, Crook 15, Lowe 12, Roberts 8, Parker 2, Haury 2.
Ottawa (80) — O’con 17, Mitchell 10, Norfleet 15, Hasty 6, Oakes 12, McKinney 2, Brooks 7, Brown 2, Okoronkwo 3, Bullinger 6.