SHERMAN, Texas –The Austin College men's basketball team went cold in the second half and Southwestern out-scored the 'Roos 37-23 after the break on the way to an 81-63 final on Friday night in Hughey Gym. The 'Roos fall to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
Southwestern got off to a red-hot start, going up 15-2 less than five minutes into the game. However, Justice Mercadel scored eight straight to cut it to a 17-10 game and Kam Hogan added four quick points as Austin College continued to chip away at the lead. Kameron Hill's three pulled the 'Roos to within 22-17 with 8:14 left in the opening half, and a three-point-play by Hogan squared things up at 23-23 a minute and a half later.
After the Pirates took a 28-24 lead, the 'Roos responded with an 11-0 run capped off by a bucket from Hogan to give Austin College a 35-28 lead with 4:04 left in the half. Southwestern would respond with an 11-1 run, going on top 39-36 with 1:52 on the clock. Austin College cut it to a 41-40 game but Southwestern's Ryan Wheeler hit a three at the buzzer to give the Pirates a 44-40 lead at halftime.
The 'Roos took a 47-46 lead early in the second half, but that's when the offense began to stall and Southwestern countered with a 14-2 run to surge ahead 60-49 with 12:11 left in the game. Jaylyn Cleamons scored to cut it to a nine-point game, but five quick points for the Pirates pushed the lead back to double-digits. Derek Lockman's three made it 67-58 with seven and a half minutes to go but that's as close as the 'Roos would get the rest of the way.
The Pirates would use a 13-0 run over the next five and a half minutes to put the game away, extending the lead to 81-58 with 1:45 left on the clock.
Mercadel finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists to lead the 'Roos and Hogan finished with 11 points and six boards. Michael Holland posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Austin College finished the game connecting on just 38% from the field, including 5-of-22 from long distance.
Brandon Alexander scored 23 points to lead all scorers, and Wheeler had 21 points and 13 rebounds, knocking down 4-of-8 from deep. Jake Holmes chipped in 16 points for the Pirates.
Austin College is back in action tomorrow as the 'Roos host Texas Lutheran with tipoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m.