(ST. LOUIS, Mo.)—McKendree men’s basketball coach Harry Statham became the all-time wins leader in college basketball history at the four-year level – men’s or women’s -- Saturday afternoon when his McKendree team collected a 92-84 victory at Maryville in St. Louis.
Statham, who is in his 50th season as the men’s basketball coach at his alma mater, earned career victory No. 1,099 with Saturday’s win. Statham broke a tie with former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt for the all-time mark. Statham improved to 1,099-475 all-time thank to the Bearcats’ victory. Summitt posted 1,098 wins during her career at Tennessee before retiring in 2012.
“This win means more to me for all the players who have been in our program, and our current team. This program is all about them,” said Statham following Saturday’s game. “For our players, the pressure was building with everyone asking them when the next (win) would come. This was a big game for us in the conference and to get this one out of the way, to get a big win and to see the pressure come off them means more than anything right now. I’m sure somewhere down the road I will look back at this and enjoy the moment. It was great to see all our fans travel to St. Louis, get behind us and be a part of this.”
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McKendree (11-10, 4-9 Great Lakes Valley Conference) helped Statham tie Summitt atop the wins list at the four-year level back on Jan. 28 with a 92-85 upset win over Wisconsin-Parkside, then the No. 21-ranked team in NCAA Division II. The Maryville game marked the Bearcats’ third attempt to push their head coach atop the list.
“I’m honored to be mentioned alongside Coach Summitt,” said Statham. “I have met her several times at clinics over the years. She is a very classy lady and a great coach.”
Freshman guard Nate Michael poured in a career-high 40 points against Maryville and added eight rebounds. Junior guard David Franklin added 21 points and eight rebounds while junior guard Michael Jackson had a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Bearcats.
McKendree led 30-28 at the half before Maryville (8-15, 2-11 GLVC) fought its way to a 54-49 lead with 11:39 to play. The Bearcats then scored 13 of the next 17 points to take the lead for good, 62-58, at the 8:50 mark. Michael and Franklin combined for all 13 points during the decision stretch for McKendree, including eight from Michael. The Bearcats eventually pushed the margin to 13 points with just over four minutes to play.
As the Bearcats were shooting free throws in the closing seconds, the approximately 200 McKendree fans packed in the bleachers behind the visitors bench began chanting “Har-ry Sta-tham”. Most of the fans stayed behind after Statham’s media obligations to meet and congratulate the all-time wins leader.