LIBERAL, Kan. – It was a David versus Goliath setup in the Greenhouse Saturday night as the Seward Saints men's basketball team took on the No. 1 Hutchinson Blue Dragons. From all angles, it seemed as though Hutchinson would run away with the game – defending national champions, number one team in the country, and a veteran squad of six sophomores. While the Blue Dragons won the game 76-69, the Saints showed that they were no slouch either.
With the game tied at 7 just five minutes into the game, Hegel Augustin converted a three-point play from a tip-in and free-throw to give the Saints the lead. Seward would keep the lead for the remainder of the half.
Over the following eight minutes, the Saints went on a 15-6 run capped off by a Devin Bethely three, made possible by a Marc Combs offensive rebound. The Saints dominated the boards in the first half, coming away with 14 offensive rebounds.
The Blue Dragons bounced back from their 12-point deficit over the next four minutes by going on an 11-0 run, making it 28-27. Clinging to a one point lead, Augustin came through again with another three-point tip in play to push the lead up to four. Mohamed Selmi put an exclamation mark on the Saints lead before halftime with a monstrous dunk, to make it 35-29 heading into the half.
Seward and Hutchinson both shot 33.3% from the floor and right around 30% from the behind the arc. The difference maker in the first half, was the hustle for the rebounds by the Saints. They outrebounded the Blue Dragons 29-21 and their 14 offensive boards doubled Hutchinson's.
While the Saints ended the second half with momentum, it quickly faded as the Blue Dragons opened up the half with a 9-0 run over the first three minutes to take a 38-35 lead. Thirty seconds later, Jamel Horton tied it back up with a three.
Both teams were throwing punches over the next seven minutes. With the Blue Dragons leading 54-51 with 8 minutes to go, Tiylar Cotton drilled a triple that ended up being the dagger. While the Saints were able to push the six-point lead down to four points, it was too late. With just over two minutes to go, the Blue Dragons were in the bonus and hit six free throws in the remaining time and win by seven, 76-69.
Second chance points were the story of this game, as the Saints got 20 off of their offensive rebounds, while the Blue Dragons only got 6. After holding Hutchinson to 33.3% shooting in the first half, the Blue Dragons came out firing in the second, connecting on 51.9% from the field and 71.4% from behind the arc.
Seward ended the day shooting 35.6% from the floor and 28.6% from deep. Bethely led the Saints in scoring, with a career-high 21. Ke'Sean Davis (10 points) and Siah Small (12 points) also hit double-digit points. Augustin was one point shy of a double-double, leading the team with 12 rebounds.
The Saints will host the Butler Grizzlies in the Greenhouse at 8:00 p.m. next Wednesday (Nov. 15).