Berea, KY- The men's basketball team returned to Roland Wierwille Court after being on the road the last two games to celebrate Senior Day. Berea faced the opponent, the Johnson University Royals, a week ago and defeated them 106-96 on their home floor and looked to send their seniors out in style.
Corey Wise started off hot for the Mountaineers, scoring the first six points before Ethan Harris' three point shot gave the team a 9-0 lead and prompted a Royals timeout with 17:15 on the clock. Berea scored the first 11 points before Johnson University hit their first jumper nearly four minutes into the game. The Royals closed the gap, using an 11-3 run to cut the Mountaineers lead to just three, 14-11 with 13:45 left in the first half. Berea gave themselves a little bit of a cushion as they extended their lead out to seven off an Anthony Myrks three point shot, which made the score 20-13 at the 11:45 mark. At the 4:41 mark, senior Shawn Williams gave the Mountaineers a six point lead before the Royals scored the next five points to make the score 32-31. Berea looked like they were going into the locker room with a six point lead, but a last second three point basket by Johnson University cut the lead to just three, 41-38, as the buzzer sounded for halftime.
The Royals came out in the second half looking to take the lead as a 4-2 run in favor of Johnson University cut the Mountaineers advantage to just one, but the team did not falter as Wise's second made basket of the second half moved the lead out to three, 45-42. The score became tied for the first time in the game at the 18:05 mark when the Royals connected on a three point shot and followed that up by taking their first lead of the game 48-47. Wise would not allow the lead to stand for long as he made a three point shot to give Berea the advantage back, 48-47. With the score 52-49 in favor of the Mountaineers, the ball went cold for Berea as Johnson University used a 9-0 run to take the lead, 58-52. The offense came back for Berea after the run as Wise scored the next five points for the Mountaineers, cutting the deficit they faced to just three, 60-57. Richard Parker's only three point basket tied the score at 63 each, but the Royals responded with their own three point basket to break the tie. Parker was fouled on his three point shot attempt and once again tied the game on three made free throws, 66-66. The game was a back and forth affair, with the teams exchanging the lead until Johnson University used a 6-0 run with the score tied at 71 to take a six point lead, 77-71. Berea was able to diminish the Royals lead to just two, 77-75, at the 3:57 mark, but Johnson University scored the next five over the next minute to take a 82-75 advantage. The Royals kept a cushion with their advantage until 51 seconds remained in the game. Berea scored four straight points, two coming from senior Tyler Huff and two from Wise, to cut the lead to one, 86-85. After Johnson University split a pair of free throws to make the score 87-85 and a quick timeout, the ball was put in the hands of Wise, but his game-tying shot was short. Berea got the quick foul and got the ball back needing only a three point shot to tie the game after the Royals split another pair of free throws. Dyonta Bizzle-Brown was fouled on the three point attempt to tie the game and went to the free throw line to shoot three shots. The first free throw attempt for Bizzle-Brown did not go through the net but a time out by Johnson University gave the team a chance to re-group and strategize. After the time out, Bizzle-Brown made his second free throw and as he was trying to purposely miss the third and get the offensive rebound, he crossed the line too fast and was called for a lane violation. With the score 88-86, Berea was able to foul a Royals player and after he split a pair of free throws to make the score 89-86, the baseball pass inbound by the Mountaineers did not reach its mark and Johnson University walked out with the win.
The loss moves Berea's record to 15-9 as they enter their final regular season game and prepare for bid day. The last game on the Mountaineers' resume will be on the road as they travel to face Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, KY this Tuesday, February 16th. Tip off for this contest is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM.