Late Rally Helps Norse Basketball Stay Undefeated
Click the thumbnails for photos, videos, interviews.
MUSKEGON---Just when it looked like the Bay College men's basketball team might suffer a loss on the road, the Norse instead pulled another win out of the fire Saturday afternoon in Muskegon.
Bay trailed the Jayhawks by five points on two occasions down the stretch, but rallied to post a tough 76-72 win to stay atop the MCCAA North Division standings with a 2-0 record.
The Norse are also 15-2 overall, and are receiving votes in the most recent national NJCAA Division Two men's basketball poll.
“Muskegon is really good, and they made us earn that one for sure,” Norse Head Coach Matt Johnson said. “I don't think we played our beat basketball game, but I don't think we played poorly, either. I think we played pretty well, and we played really hard. At the end of the day, we gutted out a win on the road against what I think is a pretty stinking-good basketball team.”
It was the sixth time that the Norse were in a tight game at halftime, only to find a way to win it in the end (Bryant & Stratton, Madison College, Oakton College, College of duPage, North Central Michigan College). But this time, it took a very late charge to get an important win on the road as the Norse try to defend last year's North Conference championship.
In this game, Bay was able to grab a 25-15 lead in the first half behind the hot shooting of sophomore Baril Mawo. He scored 18 points in the first half, as the Norse held a 36-29 lead at halftime.
But the Jayhawks (5-10 overall, 1-1 MCCAA) had a great second half behind the play of Jadakiss Lewis, Darius Williams, and Ben Clark. That trio combined for 27 points in the second half, and Muskegon had Bay on the ropes, 68-63, with less than four minutes left on the clock.
That's when Genesis Kemp does what he normally does: provide a spark. Along with Mawo, he's the only returning player from last year's team that had a lot of playing time as a freshman. And his calm experience showed Saturday as he drilled a triple to bring Bay to within 68-66, and then had an electrifying dunk shortly after Mawo had a dunk of his own, giving Bay a 70-68 lead.
The Norse defense also stepped up late, holding the Jayhawks to only four points, allowing Bay to finish the game on a 15-4 run to win by four.
“Great game,” Mawo said. “Team win right there. I just told my team to lock in. Pretty simple. We're good on that. Just locking in and executing. I was feeling myself. I just kept going and that's what my team needs, and I came through.”
Mawo led all scorers with 23 points, and he added five rebounds and four steals on defense. He made nine of the 14 shots that he took from the floor.
Kairee Gadson, who had two big baskets down the stretch and made five-of-seven from the floor, added 13 points.
Ryan Sweeney also contributed 13 points (nine of ten at the free throw line), and Kemp scored eleven points, grabbed six rebounds, had two steals, and only one turnover off the bench.
“Great, great team effort,” Johnson said. “I'm proud of our guys. That was a gutty, gritty win. So, I'm proud of them.”
Muskegon got 15 points from Lewis, 14 from Williams, and 12 from Clark.
The Norse don't have much time to celebrate going 2-0 on the road. They'll play three games this week, all at home, starting with a make-up game against Grand Rapids Community College Monday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 and the game will be broadcast live on FM-106.3. You can also follow the link for the audio at www.baynorse.com.