Webster University Men's Basketball scored 64 points in each half here Saturday afternoon en route to collecting an impressive 128-109 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over Greenville University in front of a school record standing room only crowd of 1,147 fans inside Grant Gymnasium.
Saturday's contest served as a de facto regular-season conference championship game as both teams entered the game sitting first and second the league standings and the winner of the game would earn the No. 1 seed and the right to host the SLIAC Tournament, which is scheduled for next weekend.
With the win, Webster (18-6 overall, 14-3 SLIAC) will now host the SLIAC Tournament at Grant Gymnasium and has also assured itself of at least a share of the regular season SLIAC title. The Gorloks can claim the title outright with a win at home on Monday, Feb. 18 in its regular-season finale against Principia College at 7:30 p.m. Greenville, who will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament, is now 17-8 overall and 14-4 in the league.
In next Friday's SLIAC Tournament, Webster will face fourth-seeded Blackburn (13-12, 10-8 SLIAC) in the second semifinal at 8 p.m., while the first semifinal will pit No. 2 seeded Greenville and No 3 seeded Eureka College (11-13, 10-8). Blackburn and Eureka each tied for third in the league with Spalding, but the Golden Eagles lost out on a tiebreaker to just miss qualifying for the tournament.
In Saturday's game, Webster shot 57 percent from the field and put all five of its starters in double figures as the Gorloks picked up its second win this season over the Panthers and is now 6-2 against Greenville since they began running the Grinnell offensive system in 2015.
"What a tremendous basketball game between two quality teams and also what a tremendous atmosphere in Grant Gymnasium today," Webster head coach Chris Bunch said following the game. "It was an electric atmosphere and that really seemed to pump up our players."
Sophomore forward Rodson Etienne (West Palm Beach, Fla./Royal Palm Beach) paced the Gorloks with a career-high 40 points, including scoring 25 of those points in the second half. The 40 point game by Etienne marks just the sixth time in school history that a player tallied 40 or more points in game and Etienne is just the third player in program history to record 40 or more points in a game. Four of those six 40-plus point games were scored by SLIAC and Webster Hall of Famer Jeff Reis (1999-01) and the other one was scored by Ryan Turk (2005-09), who was inducted into Webster's Athletics Hall of Fame last weekend.
In addition to Etienne, sophomore forward Nigel Wilcox (Alpharetta, Ga./Centennial) added 25 points and 19 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double and 12th double-double of the season. With his double-double on Saturday, Wilcox broke the school's career mark for double-doubles as he has now recorded 18 in his brief Gorlok career. The previous record was 17, which was set by Steve Pierson in 1985-86.
While Wilcox made history in Saturday's game, junior guard Enrique Tankins (Wentzville, Mo./Timberland) also made some history as he recorded what is believed to be just the second triple-double in school history as he finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and a career high tying 10 assists. Records prior to 1999-00 are incomplete, but it is believed that Pierson recorded a triple-double during the 1985-86 season against Logan College.
In two games this season against Greenville, Etienne averaged 35.5 points and shot 70 percent from the field against the Panthers, while Wilcox averaged 29.5 points, 17.5 rebounds and shot 65 percent from the field against the Panthers. As a team, Webster averaged 129 points in the two games and shot 59 percent from the field and also averaged 64.5 boards per game.
The other two double-digit scorers for the Gorloks were junior guards Josh Johnson (St. Louis, Mo./Clayton) and Aron Hopp (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln College) as they scored 12 and 11 points respectively. Johnson missed a triple-double by two rebounds and one assist as he added eight boards and nine assists in the win.
Webster jumped out to a 14-5 lead in the opening three minutes of the game, before GU used a 7-4 run to pull within 18-12 with 15:30 left in the opening half. That run by the Panthers ignited the Gorloks as they responded with a 24-8 run over the next seven minutes to push out to a 42-20 lead following a lay-up by Wilcox.
After Austyn Contreras drilled a trey to stop WU's run, the Gorloks would score five of the next seven points to push back in front 47-25 with 7:22 left in the half. The Panthers, who average an NCAA Division III-best 135.8 points per game, would mount a rally as they closed out the half on a 25-17 run to cut Webster's lead to 64-50 at the half.
In the opening half, Webster shot 57 percent from the field and got a combined 15 points each in the half from Etienne and Wilcox, while Hopp and sophomore Ethan Hughes (Union, Mo./Park University) each had seven points.
Greenville, who was looking to win its third straight outright league title with a win on Saturday, opened the second half on an 8-6 run to pull within 70-58 with 17:05 left in the game. WU would then score nine of the next 15 points to extend its lead to 79-64 with 14 minutes remaining.
The Panthers would not go away, though, as they answered with a 14-8 run over the next four minutes to pull within 87-78 following a lay-up by Eric Williams, who paced Greenville with 25 points.
That would be as close as the Panthers would get as the Gorloks scored 10 straight points to take a 97-78 lead with 7:16 left. The Panthers then used a 7-1 run to drop WU's lead to 98-85 with 6:41 left.
Webster would top the century mark on a lay-up by Etienne with 6:29 remaining and would close out the game by outscoring the Panthers, 28-24, to seal the victory and earn its 18th win of the season. The 18 wins are the most for the Gorloks since the 2014-15 squad won 20 games and posted a 20-8 overall record.
In addition to Williams' 25 points, Dix added 22 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in the loss, while Contreras added 18 points and Isiah Price tallied 12 points off the bench for the Panthers.
Webster tied a school record for field goal attempts in the game as took 85 shots from the field, which is tied for the single-game school mark. The Gorloks also took 85 field goals against Sanford Brown on Dec. 2, 1997.
While Webster shot 57 percent from the field, Greenville finished the game shooting 38 percent from the floor and just 28 percent (13-for-46) from the 3-point line. Greenville took 108 shots in the game.
The Gorloks finished the game with a 65-53 edge on the glass and forced Greenville into 25 turnovers that led to 29 points. The Gorloks, who had a season-high 31 turnovers in the first meeting against Greenville, had just 24 on Saturday.
Webster dished out 33 assists on its 48 made baskets and blocked eight shots, including five blocks from Wilcox. Greenville blocked nine shots and had 23 assists.
The Gorloks also shot 67 percent from the free throw line as they shot a season-high 48 free throws and made a season-high 32 free throws in the win. Greenville went 14-for-20 (70 percent) from the line.
Webster will conclude the regular season at home on Monday, Feb. 18 as they host Principia in a 7:30 p.m. SLIAC contest at Grant Gymnasium. Principia picked up an 88-83 win over the Gorloks in Elsah, Ill., this past Tuesday in the team's first meeting this season. Prior to Monday's game, the Gorloks will honor its lone senior, forward Vladimir Radojkovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Lindenwood-Belleville), in a pregame ceremony.
STORY COURTESY OF WEBSTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION