Dec. 1, 2010
Northwest drops MIAA opener to Emporia
By David Boyce
EMPORIA, Kan.-A seven-point, halftime deficit was too much for Northwest Missouri State men's basketball team to overcome.
The Bearcats never led in the second half and fell 70-65 to Emporia State Wednesday evening at White Auditorium.
The biggest nemesis for Northwest was Emporia senior Adam Holthaus. Holthaus sent the Hornets into halftime with all the momentum when he nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to put Emporia up 30-23.
Holthaus, a burly, 6-foot-7 forward, really showed his inside strength late in the second half. Northwest trailed 51-45 when Holthaus bulldozed his way for an offensive rebound and then got the put-back bucket.
Emporia extended its lead to 57-48 with less than 5 minutes to play.
The Bearcats fought back and closed to 60-56 with 2:13 left. But like the women's team before them, the Bearcats couldn't get a key stop followed by a basket to draw closer.
"We competed and listened to coach," said Northwest senior Elijah Allen. "That's the main thing we wanted to get out of this game, win or lose. We wanted to compete."
The loss dropped Northwest to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA. Emporia improved to 4-3 and 1-0.
"Every game we are growing," Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. "We are getting a little bit better. If we can continue that throughout the season, we will be tough to beat down the stretch.
"But again, they have to maintain the belief that losses here and there, especially early, are going to happen. You have to focus on the positives and what you've done right and how hard you've competed."
On the bright side, freshman Dillon Starzl turned in his best game so far in his young, collegiate career.
"I think he did real well," Allen said. "He competed and definitely helped us out on rebounds and scoring. We are still learning the offense and trying to get the ball to him more.
"He's a good player from a winning program. He's not used to this at all. We have to get some wins for him."
Starzl, who was a member of Kearney's Missouri Class 4 championship team last season, made all six of his shots and equaled a career-high 12 points. Starzl also pulled down four rebounds.
"This is exactly what we prepared for and what I expected," Starzl said. "It's tough. We knew it was going to be a grind throughout the entire game. I came up here and tried to fight the entire game and work as hard as I could."
Allen also played well in the paint, going 4-for-8 from the field and grabbing four rebounds.
The Bearcats were led by sophomore guard DeShaun Cooper, who finished with 19 points and six assists.
"Right now, we are searching a little bit offensively, and even defensively, we weren't as good as we can be," McCollum said. "On the offensive side, we didn't quite get Elijah the ball enough. We have to play to our strengths."
Northwest did a lot of things well in the first half. The Bearcats shot the ball better from the field than Emporia - 47.6 percent to 40.7 percent. They pulled down more rebounds - 16 to 9.
But there was one stat that was probably the biggest reason Northwest went into halftime down 30-23. The Bearcats turned the ball over nine times compared to just two for Emporia.
Northwest returns to action Saturday at Washburn. It's the second of four straight road conference games.
"It's tough, especially with so many new faces, but at the same time, if you can grow and use these road games as a positive, it can help you so much down the stretch," McCollum said.
"But we have to stay together as a family in order to do that."
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