LIBERAL, Kan. – Seward County's Isiah Small came away with his fourth double-double of the season, to propel the Saints men's basketball team to a 69-54 win over Independence in the Greenhouse on Wednesday.
The Saints (10-4, 6-4) have now eclipsed their win total from a season ago, and sit just two games out of first place in the Jayhawk conference.
The game started off with a series of runs, with Seward taking an early 8-2 advantage at the 16:32 mark. However, the momentum quickly turned in favor of the Pirates, as Independence went on a 15-4 run to take a five-point lead with just over 11 minutes to go in the half.
A Small jump shot and an Anthony Thomas three-pointer on back-to-back possessions tied the game at 17 two minutes later. With 6:33 to play, Small hit two free-throws to give the Saints a 21-20 advantage and started a 24-7 run to end the half, giving Seward the 43-27 lead at halftime.
Seward was nearly unstoppable in the first half, connecting on 52.2 percent (12 of 23) of their shots and 37.5 percent (3 of 8) from behind the arc. The Saints did their most damage at the free-throw line, however, making 16 of 19 (84.2 percent), while the Pirates hit just 3 of 8 (37.5 percent).
The game took a slower pace in the second half for the Saints, waiting nearly three minutes to score their first basket. Seward went on another five-minute drought before Ke'Sean Davis connected on a jump shot. While the Saints struggled to find the basket, the Pirates cut their deficit to 11 points with just under 12 minutes to play.
The Pirates cut the lead to 53-46 with 5:45 left in the game. Devin Bethely and Hegel Augustin combined to push the Saints lead back to 11 points just a minute later to start a 16-7 run to end the game, preventing Independence from making a comeback and securing the win, 69-54.
The Saints finished the game shooting 40 percent from the floor (22 of 55), but struggled from behind the arc, making just 5 of their 21 attempts (23.8%). Seward limited the Pirates to 33.3 percent shooting (19 of 57), whiling holding them to 23.1 percent (6 of 26) from deep.
Three Saints reached double-figures – Davis (16 pts), Small (16 pts) and Thomas (10 pts). Small added 13 rebounds to record his second double-double in three games.
The Saints will be on the road for their next two contests, traveling to Colby on Saturday (Jan. 6) at 8:00 p.m. to take on the Trojans. Colby will live-stream the game and it can be heard on 107.5 KSCB with Brock Kappelmann (pxp) on the call.