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Pirates Suffer First Home Loss of the Season

Pirates Suffer First Home Loss of the Season

GEORGETOWN, Texas – The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team suffered its first home loss of the season, falling to the McMurry University War Hawks in a 97-92 shootout.

All five Pirate starters lit up the scoreboard with double-figure scoring, shooting a combined 27-for-45 (60 percent) from the field, led by Brandon Alexander's 19 points and seven rebounds.

Both teams set a torrid pace in the first half, firing quick 3-pointers in transition, off dribble handoffs, and drive-and-kick opportunities. Though both teams utilized full-court defenses, each finished with only four turnovers in the half as ball and bodies moved freely.

McMurry lefty guard Zacc Carter was ruthlessly efficient in the first half, scoring 14 of his 18 points with a number of left-to-right crossovers into pull-up jumpers. The War Hawks' leading scorer shot 6-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from deep. Mike Williams Jr. worked inside, crashing the glass for five offensive rebounds and 12 points.

The War Hawks shot 45.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 43.8 percent from long range, opening up a 26-16 lead at the 12:26 mark.

Southwestern University responded with five 3-pointers over a four-minute span to take a 43-41 lead at the 4:58 mark. The Pirates spread the floor, getting 14 first-half points from Alexander and shooting 59.4 percent from the field before the break, including a scorching 8-for-14 from beyond the 3-point line to take a 53-47 lead at halftime.

Whether due to fatigue stemming from the absence of two injured rotation players or simple regression to the mean, the Pirates faded in the second half.

The Pirates' starting backcourt of Luke Hicks and Kyle Howard pierced the War Hawks' defense repeatedly, driving to the rim for 11 points each on a combined 9-for-15 shooting in the second half.

But the crispness of the offense degraded down the stretch. The 3-pointers that found the bottom of the net in the first half caromed off the rim in the second, hitting just 3-for-11.

Ball handlers came off screens to no advantage, failing to force the rotations that yielded open looks earlier. The freedom the Pirates played with early, racking up 13 first-half assists, disappeared; tallying just three assists in the second half to 13 turnovers.

McMurry took advantage of Southwestern University's 17 turnovers with a 25-9 advantage in points off turnovers. Khalil Butler broke loose for 13 points in the second half, hitting 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, and Williams continued his strong work inside with 11 second-half points.

The Pirates' comeback hopes were hampered by 8-for-15 shooting from the free-throw line in the second half, allowing the War Hawks to establish and maintain a lead.

Four War Hawks scored in double figures, led by Williams' 23 points and nine rebounds. Butler finished with 21 points on 5-for-6 shooting from deep, Carter had 18 points and three assists, and Trevin Ramirez had 11 points for McMurray.

In addition to Alexander's 19 points, the Pirates got 18 points and six assists from Howard and 17 points and five rebounds from Hicks. Jake Holmes battled foul trouble to score 11 points and grab seven rebounds, Joel Martinez had 10 points on seven shots with four assists, and Kyle Poerschke scored 13 points off the bench.

With the loss, the Pirates drop to 3-3. Southwestern University will travel to Oregon for a game against George Fox on Friday, Dec. 7 at 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 against Lewis & Clark at 9:00 p.m. The Pirates will begin conference play on Dec. 15 at home against JWU (Denver) and Dec. 16 hosting Colorado College.