The St. Ambrose men's basketball team got its first Midwest Collegiate Conference win of the season on Wednesday with the help of an unlikely source.|
The Fighting Bees defeated Clarke University, 85-69, after trailing 36-33 at the break at Lee Lohman Arena. Their terrific second half run came on the shoulders of Josh Hutton.
Hutton, an Orion graduate, posted 14 points for the Bees (7-12, 1-4 MCC) in the second half. He was 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc, and a perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
"It's definitely nice to have a happy locker room after a game," Hutton said. "That's a big win for us to turn it around."
Hutton attended Clarke (7-11, 1-4 MCC) for a semester his freshman year before transferring to St. Ambrose, where he had to sit out the next semester. He was averaging three points and nine minutes per game coming into play Wednesday.
"That was nice to be able to do that," Hutton said, "against a team that I played for and be able to help the team out to get the victory today."
Eleven of Hutton's 14 second-half points came in minute and a half. His free throws with 8:51 remaining in the half gave the Bees a 63-50 lead.
"I was in a rhythm," Hutton said. "My teammates were giving me shots when I was open. We got a good team here, unselfish team. We look for the best shot we can get and my teammates kept getting me the ball in open looks."
Hutton wasn't the only one having success against Clarke on Wednesday. He was among four Bees that scored in double digits. Nick Frazier led the team with 19, and Moline product Justin Blondell backed him up with 16 points. Michael Thompson had 10 points and shared the team lead in rebounds with Frazier at eight.
"We had number of guys contributing," SAU coach Ray Shovlain said. "Nice job of moving the ball, we hit shots in the second half and we played fairly effective defense."
The win snapped St. Ambrose's six-game skid, but it stopped the Bees first 0-5 start in MCC play since the 2000-01 campaign.
"We got the guys in rhythm," Shovlain said. "We've had a hard time staying consistent throughout entire games this season and we did a better job tonight. This is a pride factor now, and I think they responded."
St. Ambrose 71, Clarke 62 (women):When you shoot the ball the way the Bees did, you have to look in other areas to win games.
Luckily for the Bees, they did. St. Ambrose (16-3, 4-1 MCC) did so on the glass, outrebounding Clarke 48-36, making 21 free throws and allowing the opposition to only shoot seven.
"The first half was not good half for our shooting percentage," SAU coach Krista Van Hauen said. "Second half, we got a lot of offensive rebounds and that gave us a better opportunity. We knew they struggled to box out and defend down low, so we made a commitment for our kids to hit the boards."
St. Ambrose shot 37 percent in the game and was 2-for-22 from 3-point range, but put the ball in bucket when it mattered.
With 9:28 remaining in the game, the Bees trailed 48-45. The momentum suddenly swung to the Bees side as they ran away from Clarke on a 17-0 run over the next six minutes.
"We knew there would be a game where we cooled off a bit," Van Hauen said. "We had to get the ball inside and we opened it that way."
Samantha Saladino and Katie Jensen led St. Ambrose with 18 points apiece and both pulled down seven rebounds. Lauren Cash scored 13 and Geneseo product Devan Griffin had 10 points with nine boards.
"The crucial rebounds were what put us over in the game," Van Hauen said. "Clarke is a better team than their record shows. The girls found other ways to score and got it done that way."
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