Illinois College went on a 21-5 run in the final minutes of the game to come away with a 96-86 victory over Blackburn College on Saturday, November 17 at Jacksonville, Ill.)
The game served as the back-end of a doubleheader during the Illinois College Tournament hosted by Illinois College.
Blackburn went into halftime with a strong showing leading by six points at 42-36. The Beavers would open the second half on a high note, continuing to maintain their lead.
"I thought we were really active in the half court defensively and we got some great looks in transition that were created from our defense,” said head coach Steve Kollar of Blackburn on what was the force behind gaining the important first-half lead against a strong home team. "We also were not giving up second-chance opportunities and it was [one] shot and out."
The Blueboys would continue to fight, as they would tie at 59-59 with 9:43 minutes to go in the game. The remainder of the game would remain tight, as each team would answer with point after point.
Things began to fall apart for Blackburn however as IC began their 21-5 run with a three-pointer from star player Mason Speer at the 3:02 mark. Speer would go on to score eight of IC’s 21 points in the final few minutes of the game as Blackburn was unable to turn things around in their favor.
"We were not finishing possessions like we were focused on early in the first half and I thought them making some big threes late deflated us," said Coach Kollar. " We need to learn how to answer those runs with a run of our own. We have to continue to learn how to close games out and get those consecutive stops. Grow as a team and become mentally tougher and handle and counter runs when they happen."
IC shot 15 of 27 (55.6 percent) from the field in the second half to end the game with an overall mark of 51.9 percent. Blackburn shot a poor 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) and connected on 26 of 68 (38.2 percent) total shots for the game. The Blueboys led the Beavers in three-point percentage shooting 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) to BC’s 13 of 42 (31.0 percent), but scored nine fewer bench points (25-34) and lost the second chance points battle by five (15-20).
Duncan King (Peoria, Illinois / Richwoods) connected on four of eight shots from the field and nine of ten shots from the line to lead the Beavers with 17 points. Joining him in double figures was Karson Hayes (Little Rock, Arkansas / John L McClellan) and Chanz Aldridge (Hillside, Illinois / St. Joseph's) with 16 points. Also having another productive game in terms of points, rebounds, and assists was Bryson Kriby (Lincoln, Illinois / Lincoln) with ten points, eleven rebounds, and four assists.
When asked what the biggest change the team needs to make to turn things around and win, Kollar stated, “We need to compete on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes. Waiting in college basketball is very difficult and especially if you are not competing at a high-level and paying attention to detail for 40 minutes. We have to limit our defensive breakdowns and continue to get great shots offensively. We will no doubt continue to stay together and grow throughout this process. It’s a long season and it is all about growth on a daily basis”
Up Next: The Beavers prepare to play Tuesday night, Nov. 20, when they face a difficult Elmhurst College at their home floor in a 7 p.m. matchup.