After suffering a tough loss in day one of the Gila Monster Shootout, the Seward County Saints men’s basketball team bounced back in day two when they grabbed their first win of the 2023-2024 season in a hard-fought contest against Eastern Arizona where it came down to a last second put-back to seal the win for the Saints 78-77.
Seward County and Eastern Arizona fought back-and-forth through the first ten minutes of action with the Saints holding a faint lead after an intentional foul by the Monsters put Nathan Jones at the line for two free throws which put SCCC ahead 14-13 and a few minutes later Carson Bennett cashed in his first three of the game to increase the lead to four 17-13. After that it was all EAC for the rest of the first half with the Monsters going on a 9-0 run to take over the lead 28-21 and their advantage only grew from there. A subtle mid-range jumper by Mervin Hope helped keep the score growing for Seaward County but Eastern Arizona still went into halftime off a 22-8 run to give themselves a 41-29 lead going into halftime.
It was going to take a lot for the Saints to scratch and claw their way out of the hole they were dug into, but Seward County’s strong defense came into effect as Jaden Martin got the steal and was rewarded with the alley-oop slam to cut the Monster’s lead down to fifteen 50-35. EAC managed to grow their lead even further but Mathias M’Madi refused to back down as he managed to find any way he could to score, including inbounding the ball off a defender’s backside to create an easy layup for himself. The Saints were able to fight back as they cut the Eastern Arizona lead from twenty to ten off a three pointer from M’Madi and back-to-back scores in the paint by Blessin Kimble put it at four with EAC forced into a timeout now only up 68-64. Strong defense for Seward County once again created some easy offense as it was M’Madi who intercepted a pass and made a fast break layup to cut the lead down to one and moments later made a three from NBA range to put Seward County in front 76-75 with twenty seconds remaining. EAC was able to respond quickly with a layup to retake a one-point lead, putting it into the final seconds for the Saints to pull off the comeback. After a missed layup for SCCC that led to multiple putback attempts, it was Kimble who was able to bank it in for the Seward County win and put the Saints in the win column for the first time this season.
Four Saints reached double-figures on the afternoon with M’Madi leading the way with a career high of 26 points while Kimble recorded his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Carson Bennett scored 12 points off four made three-pointers and the man in the middle Lovasoa Andriatsarafara added another 10 to help lead Seward County to victory.
The Saints improve to 1-2 on the 2023-2024 season and will look to continue their success tomorrow when they take on Southern Nevada in a 12:00 PM tip-off to close out the Gila Monster Shootout in Thatcher, AZ.