No. 4 Kentucky Wesleyan (13-0, 5-0 Great Lakes Valley Conference) put together a solid performance in its toughest test of the season to defeat No. 5 Indianapolis (12-1, 4-1 GLVC) 79-69, handing the Greyhounds their first loss of the season.
The Panthers never trailed the entire game and held Indy’s leading scorer, Reece Cheatham, scoreless in the first half as they built a lead.
“I thought we defended in the first half,” coach Todd Lee said. “To hold them to 32 percent shooting [in the first half]…that was one of our better halves defensively.”
KWC didn’t have any big runs but was able to limit the amount of Indy runs. The Panthers were also able to win the rebounding battle 37-25. The Greyhounds went on a 10-2 run to bring the game within six with 4:54 left to play, but KWC never let it get any closer.
The Panthers were able to fend off Indy at the free throw line late as Rico Ferguson, who had 19 points and five rebounds, hit two free throws to put KWC up 77-67 with under a minute to play. That put the game on ice as Indy elected not to foul.
The Greyhounds got within seven several times in the final few minutes, but KWC was able to maintain its lead.
Lucas Barker hit two free throws to give KWC a 72-63 with 2:55 left, but Cheatham answered with a long 3-pointer on the other end for Indy to make it 72-66 just seconds later. Cheatham finished with 21 points, all of which came in the second half.
KWC’s J.D. Danforth traveled after receiving the in-bounds pass, keeping the momentum with Indy. But the Greyhounds spoiled the chance and weren’t able to score. Barker was fouled and made one free throw to make it 73-66, then Donovan Johnson buried two free throws later to make 75-66 in favor of KWC with 1:40 left to play to seal the win.
Ferguson scored nine points in the first half and 10 in the second to provide KWC with a lift off the bench in both halves.
“Rico [Ferguson] is one of the guys that can go get you a basket,” Lee said. “He’s getting better. Sometimes you need a guy who, if everything breaks down, can just take his man and go get in the lane. I thought he played well.”