Inter-conference adversaries Meadville and Bucklin/Macon County went toe-to-toe in the opening round of the Northwestern Invitational Tournament on Tuesday night. Although the game was a nail-biter down to the wire, it was riddled with turnovers and fouls -- not by any means uncharacteristic of neutral-site November basketball.
Meadville, the four-seed, walked off the court victorious, 51-46, in its opening game of the season. The Eagles advances to face top-seeded Higbee on Thursday at 7 p.m.
BMC, seeded fifth in the tourney, falls to 1-1 with a full week off after defeating Keytesville last Monday. The Bulldogs/Raiders were relegated to the consolation bracket of the 62nd classic in Mendon.
"I think we had 25 fouls in that game," Bucklin/Macon County coach Brandi Davis said. "We didn't penetrate toward the basket at the beginning of the game, and I told them that's something we need to improve on. I think we did at the beginning of the second half, but we were in consistent foul trouble. We can't make those mistakes.
"We have to clean up the turnovers. We missed nine of our free-throws, and lost by five. We need to play defense with our feet and not our hands. We look to go up from here."
Davis' side led 22-21 at halftime, and the third quarter of Tuesday night's game featured a myriad of ties and lead changes. The third set of eight minutes saw nine lead changes and a tie, including six consecutive leap-frogs in leads.
When the third had concluded, BMC held a 36-34 lead. Meadville's Kiera Holcer and McKenna Lambert took control of the fourth quarter, however, combining for 13 of their team's 17 points in the final frame. BMC managed just 10 points in that quarter, and the Eagles were content to prolong their possessions as much as possible in the final few minutes.
"We're a young team, we have no seniors this year, and for our first game of the year, I thought we might have some jitters," Meadville coach Kevin Carr said. "Turnovers were an issue we'll have to work on in practice, but I thought we hustled. We have to box out better, and we have to get a little smarter with the ball."
Holcer and Roberts had a respective 18 and 12 points for the Eagles. Krysta Meyers finished with eight.
BMC senior Kellen Robertson was exceptional on Tuesday night, leading all scorers with 26 points, scoring no fewer than six points in any quarter.