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Peru State men top Mount Mercy Mustangs, 79-73

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat
Henry Tanksley goes up between Mustang
defenders for two of his team-high 
19 points.

It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was a conference win as the Peru State men's basketball team topped a pesky Mount Mercy Mustang team on Saturday.

The Bobcats held off the Mustangs 79-73 to improve to 7-6 overall on the season and more importantly, improved to 6-2 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart). Mount Mercy fell to 7-7 on the year and 2-6 in conference play.

First Half Action

There were five ties and four lead changes in the first half and the largest lead by either team was seven.

Noah Vasa (Nebraska City) started the Bobcat scoring with a bucket off an assist from Devon Colley (Las Vegas) with just 43 seconds off the clock. Mount Mercy responded with a bucket for the first tie of the half.

At the 18:42 mark, Isaac Simpson (Papillion) scored on an assist from Colley to regain the lead for Peru State only to see the Mustangs tie it with a pair of free throws. Simpson would give the 'Cats the lead again, this time on a three-pointer off another assist from Colley.

Later the game would be tied at 10 and Mount Mercy would take the lead with a trey. Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) countered with a trey on another assist by Colley to tie it at 13-13 with 14:22 on the clock.

The last tie in the half would come at 16-16 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the first half. Mount Mercy would break that tie with a bucket only to see Vasa drain a trey on an assist from Colley to give Peru State the lead for good in the half.

Henry Tanksley (Lincoln) would follow with a three-pointer coming on an assist from McReynolds to extend Peru State's lead to four at 22-18. Tanksley would come back with another bucket to give the 'Cats their largest lead to that point.

After Mount Mercy stopped the 6-0 run by Peru State, McReynolds hit another three on an assist from Nate Townsen Jr. (Richton Park, Ill.) put the Bobcats up 27-20 with 9:07 to go in the first 20 minutes. This would be the largest lead by either team in the first half.

The Mustangs would be back within one on a couple of occasions late in the half. Townsen Jr. would later hit a trey at the buzzer on another Colley assist to give Peru State a 43-38 lead at halftime.

Second Half Action

The Bobcats would never trail in the second half, but that did not bother Mount Mercy as they would make a comeback late in the 20 minutes

Peru State would stretch their lead to 11 at 51-40 after Vasa hit a bucket in the paint off an assist from Townsen Jr. at the 17:58 mark. The 'Cats would later still lead by 11 at 56-45 after Tanksley hit a trey on an assist from Colley with 15:51 to go in the game.

It would be from that point that the Mustangs would start to slowly make a comeback. Mount Mercy would get within four at 56-52 before Colley completed an old-fashioned three-point play.

Late in the game with just 73 seconds left, the Mustangs had pulled to within three at 74-71. After a missed opportunity by Peru State, Mount Mercy cut the deficit to one at 74-73.

With time nearly expiring on the shot clock, McReynolds hit an off-balance and long three-pointer off an assist from Simpson to give the 'Cats a four-point cushion at 77-73 with five seconds remaining. After a Bobcat timeout, Townsen Jr. stole the ball and was immediately fouled. He stepped to the free throw line and sealed the win with a pair of free throws for the Heart win.

Team Statistics

Peru State shot the ball slightly better in every category than their opponents. The Bobcats made 27 of 63 field goals for 42.9% which included making 11 of 34 from long range for 32.4%. At the charity stripe, the 'Cats made 14 of 21 for 66.7%.  Mount Mercy connected on 26 of 71 field goals for 36.6% and hit 8 of 30 from behind the arc for 26.7%. At the free throw line, the Mustangs made 13 of 20 for 65%.

Mount Mercy did outrebound the Bobcats 41-33. Peru State had 17 assists while the Mustangs finished with 13.

Like their female counterparts, Peru State did take care of the ball as they committed a season-low seven turnovers while Mount Mercy only had 13 miscues.

The 'Cats blocked five shots while Mount Mercy had one. Peru State grabbed seven steals compared to three for the Mustangs.

Peru Individual Statistics

Five Bobcats were in double figures in scoring with Tanksley leading the way with 19 points. Vasa added 15 while going 6 of 8 from the floor. Colley and Townsen Jr. each had 13 points while McReynolds scored 12 coming off the bench as he went four of five from behind the arc.

Colley nearly finished with a triple double as he had nine rebounds and eight assists. Vasa added seven boards while Simpson and Tanksley each grabbed five.

Townsen Jr. finished with five assists while McReynolds dished out two.

Vasa blocked two shots with Colley, Tanksley, and O'Nandi Brooks (Brooklyn, N.Y.) each having one block.

Townsen Jr. was credited with three steals while Vasa grabbed two.

Upcoming Contests

Peru State will be in Iowa for its next two conference games. On Wednesday, they will be in Des Moines to face Grand View at 7:30 p.m. The Vikings are presently 3-10 overall and 1-7 in the conference. They have lost seven games in a row.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, the Bobcats will head to Oskaloosa to face league-leading William Penn at 4 p.m. The Statesmen, fifth-ranked in NAIA DI, are 13-1 overall and are 7-1 in the Heart, one game ahead of the Bobcats and Benedictine (Kan.).

The Bobcats will be back home to face that Benedictine team on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The Ravens are 8-6 on the season and are 6-2 in conference play.