Tuesday night at the Swinney Recreation Center the UMKC Kangaroos stepped on the floor having won two of their last three games. They were facing a Houston Baptist Huskies team that had lost eight in a row and 14 straight against Division I opponents. It was a game the Roos were supposed to win and early on it looked like they would. They carried a slim 35-31 lead into halftime but the four point margin belied the reality that UMKC had thoroughly outplayed the Huskies during the first 20 minutes of action.
In the second half the Roos quickly stretched their lead out to 11 and held a comfortable advantage until about six minutes left when an Anthony Hill three pointer tied the game at 56.
From that point on the home team unraveled.
They turned the ball over, they missed free throws, they missed layups and dunks. Even with all the mistakes and missed opportunities whipping around, they still looked like the better team on the floor.
And yet, when the final buzzer sounded and Estan Tyler‘s last second heave missed it’s mark, the Roos were faced with the stark reality reflected on the scoreboard. They had lost to Houston Baptist, 63-61.
Fred Chatmon was a beast on the boards pulling down a career high 17 rebounds and added ten points despite shooting 2-8 from the floor and 6-10 from the line. It was his third double-double of the season. Leading the Roos in scoring was junior Nelson Kirksey with 14 points on 6-8 from the floor. His five rebounds in the game earned him second place in the team’s hierarchy. Thomas Staton, like Kirksey, came off the bench to score in double digits and finished with an even dozen, though he missed a layup in the final seconds of the game that would have put the Roos up by one. After scoring 64 points in the previous three games, Estan Tyler was held to just nine on 3-9 shooting. All of his points were a result of his 3-3 performance from beyond the arc in the first half. Trinity Hall and Kirk Korver were non-factors as they combined for four points, one rebound and three steals in 33 minutes on the floor.
For Houston Baptist, the story begins and ends with their leading scorer Art Bernardi who had nothing short of a fantastic game. He finished with 25 points on 8-11 shooting but he did more than simply account for 40% of the Huskies offense. Bernardi also led the team in rebounds (8), steals (5), blocks (3) and tied for the team lead in assists (2) as well. He was the one player on the court that the Roos could not handle and Bernardi got just enough help from his friends to stun UMKC.
For the third time this season, the Huskies (5-14, 0-3) will step away from the ranks of Division I schools for a Saturday home game against the Ecclesia College Royals (0-17). Ecclesia is a Christian work college located in Springdale, Arkansas and is a member of the National Christian College Athletics Association.
Surely reeling from the stunning loss against one of the worst teams in Division I, the Roos (6-15, 3-5) will look to bounce back on Saturday against the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (5-16, 2-6). It will be the second meeting between the two schools. UNO beat UMKC by 12 back on December 31st, but this weekend’s game will be at the Swinney Recreation Center and the Roos, Tuesday’s loss aside, have been playing better basketball of late. The Mavericks are led by junior guard Justin Simmons who is currently averaging 14.8 points per game.