SHERMAN, Texas – With its roster fully intact once again, the Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team overwhelmed the Austin College Kangaroos for an 81-63 road victory.
After weeks with different players in and out of the lineup, Jake Holmes and Luke Hicks returned to make the Pirates whole at last. With the Pirates' depth restored, Southwestern University wore down Austin College, limiting the Kangaroos to just 10-for-34 (29.4 percent) shooting in the second half.
Holmes returned to the starting lineup, scoring an efficient 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting with five rebounds. His playmaking ability from the center position was a welcomed sight, giving the Pirates a steady decision-maker to hold the ball while their forwards ran through their myriad off-ball actions. Holmes finished with four assists to the most efficient spots, finding Brandon Alexander for a layup and setting up three other 3-pointers.
Alexander, the reigning SCAC Player of the Week, led Southwestern with 23 points, struggling from deep with a 3-for-11 performance from the 3-point line but working inside to finish 9-for-20 overall with six rebounds. The junior forward worked brilliantly off the ball with seven of his nine made field goals assisted on.
Ryan Wheeler was strong on the glass, posting his first double-double this season with 21 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 4-for-8 from deep and 7-for-15 overall.
The Pirates moved the ball well, assisting on 17 of their 30 made field goals.
Justice Mercadel led three Austin College players in double figures, scoring 15 points with eight rebounds and four assists. Kam Hogan contributed 11 points on 16 shots with four turnovers and Michael Holland produced a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Southwestern opened the game with a 15-2 run, getting a pair of layups and three assists from Holmes in the first five minutes. Austin College recovered to take a 35-28 lead on a Hogan layup with 4:04 remaining in the first half but Southwestern responded with a flurry of 3-pointers to take a 44-40 at the break.
The Pirates' defense tightened in the second half, shutting down Austin College from deep (2-for-13) and keeping them off the free-throw line (four attempts) in the second half.
Southwestern outshot Austin College 43.5 percent to 38.0 percent, hitting six more 3-pointers and taking 20-13 advantages in both points off turnovers and second-chance points.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 8-6 on the season and remain undefeated with five conference wins. Austin College drops to 6-8 this season, including 2-3 in conference play. Southwestern will travel to play Dallas tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.