Liberal, Kansas – On Wednesday night the 2023-2024 officially began for the Seward County Saints men’s basketball team as they tipped-off inside of the Green House against Northern Oklahoma Tonkawa where the Mavericks managed to silence Seward County with a 77-56 defeat to start the season.
The Saints struggled to score early through the first ten minutes of the first half of action as NOCT amassed a 17-3 lead before Nathan Jones was able to score off a fastbreak layup for the first made field goal of the game for SCCC and a minute later Mervin Hope splashed in a three from downtown for his first collegiate points to bring the deficit down to single digits at 17-8. From there the Saints went on a rampage from three as Carson Bennett and Dave Olaniyi combined for three straight from beyond the arc to close the gap to 23-19. From there SCCC was only able to score two more points before halftime as the Mavericks went on a 20-2 run through the last five and a half minutes, sending Seward County into halftime down 43-21.
The second half was no better for the Saints fans to watch as the Mavericks only grew their lead further with Seward County unable to find a path to the rim until Hope managed to drive down the lane for an easy score to help SCCC find some kind of rhythm offensively. That rhythm was quickly disbanded as the Saints’ deficit stretched all the way out to thirty and Seward County was rarely able to score from their, with Olaniyi finding Nathan Jones for a wide open corner three and an and-one situation for Hope after he powered his way down the lane once again to put SCCC at 50 points before NOCT was able to put the Saints away with a 77-56 loss to open their 2023-2024 regular season.
As a team Seward County shot an abysmal 29.1% from the field and turned the ball over 26 times on the afternoon, ten more than the number of shots made for the Saints (16). Jones led SCCC with 15 points on 75% shooting while making 8/10 free throws from the charity stripe. Joining him as the only other Saint to reach double figures was Hope who scored 12 points to go with 5 rebounds against the Mavericks.
SCCC starts their 2023-2024 season 0-1 after tonight’s loss and will now prepare for a three game tournament in Arizona where they will face off against Snow, Eastern Arizona, and Southern Nevada on November 9-11.