BELOIT — On a night which called for their “A” game, Beloit College’s Buccaneers struggled mightily in the second half against nationally-ranked St. Norbert Wednesday night at Flood Arena.
Much of that was due to the Green Knights, who’ve pretty much turned the rest of the Midwest Conference into the Washington Generals. Ranked No. 12 in the most recent D3Hoops.com poll, SNC has now won 69 straight against MWC foes.
Within 33-27 at the half, Beloit shot just 26.9 percent (7-26) after the break and fell 72-51.
“I thought we took bad shots in the second half,” Beloit head coach Brian Vraney said. “We went away from our game plan. We played a decent first half. We turned the ball over too much, but at least we attacked them in a way we thought would be effective.”
The Bucs’ last gasp really came in the first half when freshman guard Mason Jones tied the game at 25-all with a three-pointer from the top of the key with 4:11 left. Beloit added only two more free throws while SNC tallied eight.
Worse for the Bucs, the Green Knights picked up where they left off, outscoring them 16-4 to start the second half to grap a commanding 49-31 advantage.
“We had way too many shots early in our possessions,” Vraney said. “It was one pass and a shot. They’re only good if they go. What happened a lot was that they would get the rebound and they were out running in transition. We have to be tougher in those situations.”
Beloit also lost Jones, one of the few players having a solid game, during that initial second-half burst. He took a charging foul, but landed on his right elbow in the process. He was through for the night, having scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in 21 minutes.
“He got after it and played pretty good defense,” Vraney said. “He just had a few too many turnovers.”
He wasn’t alone there. The Knights had 20 as a team. They were also outrebounded 42-32, allowing 14 offensive boards.
“You can’t be careless with the ball and not box out against a team like this,” Vraney said. “When we did force some misses, we needed to block out better than we did.”
With a post-game icebag on his injured non-shooting elbow, Jones hopes he heals quickly. The Bucs play at Illinois College on Saturday with an eight-game losing streak in tow.
“I think I’ll be able to put a sleeve over it and I’ll be fine,” Jones said.
The 6-foot-2 freshman has shown plenty of toughness already. A native of Santa Maria, Calif., he did choose to attend a college in the Midwest with more than a passing knowledge of its wintry weather.
“I wanted to get away from home to play and I like the Midwest,” he said. “I like the snow. I have relatives in Chicago and in Michigan so I’m not completely alone.”
Jones said the speed and strength of the college game was more of a shock than the Midwest’s change of seasons.
“How fast it is and how strong these players are was an adjustment I’ve had to make,” he said. “It was certainly different.”
The Bucs were victorious in their first two games and haven’t won since. That’s something new to the Californian, too. His alma mater, St. Joseph High School, won a state title during his tenure there.
“It is similar in that we didn’t win right away,” he said. “We needed time to jell and then we made a huge run. We have a lot of freshmen on this team. I think we’ll get through this and eventually we’ll be good.”
• NOTES: SNC (8-2, 6-0) was led by D.J. DeValk’s 16 points. Ben Bobinski had 15 and Terrence Garner and Taylor Penn nine apiece. ...Cody Risseeuw led the Bucs with 13 points, but was just 4-of-11 from the field. Freshman Tristan Shoup had eight points and a team-high six rebounds.