March 11, 2013
Bearcats' season ends after championship classic
By David Boyce
The players on Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball probably woke up this morning still hurting from the 79-76 overtime loss to Central Missouri Sunday afternoon.
The Bearcats came tantalizingly close to winning the MIAA Tournament Championship at Municipal Auditorium and advancing to the NCAA Division II national tournament.
It hurts when you care and you put in a lot of hard work to achieve a goal and you come up just short.
“I love all of these guys, It hurts pretty bad… this one was a heartbreaker,” said Northwest junior Dillon Starzl said.
Once the emotional pain subsides, the players will realize they did something pretty special over the weekend in Kansas City.
The players on the 2012-13 men’s basketball team should only feel pride in the way they represented themselves, their families and their school during the season and in the conference tournament.
No matter what kind of adversity struck, the Bearcats never complained or used it as an excuse for a loss.
The Bearcats battled.
It was very evident when Northwest stared at a 65-57 deficit with 3:50 left in the championship game against the Mules.
From all appearances, the two serious injuries the Bearcats suffered in consecutive games at the conference tournament had finally caught up with them.
Junior guard Bryston Williams, whose playing time increased because of the injury to DeAngelo Hailey, stepped up with a three-pointer that helped the Bearcats close to 65-62 a little over a minute later.
Williams sent the game into overtime with a driving layup with 2 seconds remaining in regulation.
The roaring comeback solidified the 2013 tournament championship game as a classic.
“This team knows that as long as there is time on the clock, there’s a chance,” Williams said. “We fought back and fought until the clock ran out and unfortunately, we couldn’t finish it out.”
The main element needed for a remarkable game is both teams fighting hard for the same prize.
Northwest had the momentum early in overtime and took a 70-67 lead. Central Missouri charged back and gained a 73-70 advantage.
The Mules maintained the lead the rest of overtime, but Northwest had a chance to forge another tie with 4 seconds left.
The ball just didn’t bounce their way in the end.
Still, they gave their fans a thrilling ride over the weekend. Fans left Municipal Auditorium feeling Bearcat pride.
“I have never been around a group that was so mentally tough, from the seniors to the freshman,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “They all came ready to work hard, every day. They never stopped fighting.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with me. We just have great kids. There is not another team in the country that can do what they did as far as coming back from all the injuries.”
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