Basketball ends regular season with wins, gains momentum for postseason

Hayli Jo Smith, senior, looks for the open driving lane against Lewis University on Feb. 5. Photo courtesy of Kyle Rivas.

It is almost the end of February and both the men’s and women’s basketball teams for William Jewell College (WJC) have played 26 games a piece as they near the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Tournament.

The women’s basketball team, led by Head Coach Jill Cress, ended the regular season with an overall record of 15-11, with a record of 10-8 in conference play.  WJC women’s basketball is averaging 70.5 points per game (ppg).  A large part of WJC’s scoring comes from Aerial Smith, senior guard, with 13.3 ppg, Maddie Nelson, sophomore guard, with 11.1 ppg and Hayli Jo Smith, senior forward, with 10.2 ppg.

Aerial Smith, senior, also leads the team in three other signifiant categories averaging 6.0 rebounds a game, 4.6 assists a game and 2.5 steals a game.

“This year we have had really good chemistry and have been able to use that to our advantage on the court,” Smith said.

The men’s basketball team, led by Head Coach Larry Holley, ended the regular season with an overall record of 13-13, with a record of 9-9 in conference play. WJC men’s basketball averaged 72.2 ppg while allowing 72.3 ppg from their opponents.  Key scorers for the WJC men’s squad include Jordan Lewis, senior guard, with 13.4 ppg, followed by D’Vante Mosby, sophomore forward, with 12.8 ppg, Christian Hildebrandt, senior guard, with 11.8 ppg and Darius Tomlin, junior guard, with 11.4 ppg.

Along with his scoring contribution, Mosby also grabs 8.5 rebounds a game, nearly averaging a double-double every game. A “double-double” is a performance in which a player achieves a double digit in a single game in two of the following categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.

“I’m feeling good about how we are playing.  If we play as a team, play as a unit, and move the ball around, we are pretty hard to beat.  We are heatin’ up at the right time, sort of reminds me of the Royals,” Mosby said.

Men’s big win against Drury

The men came away with the “W” against a very tough opponent on the road, beating Drury 73-59.  This win put the team in a better position to be in the conference tournament. The Cardinals led by eight at halftime despite losing starting shooting guard Jordan Lewis to injury five minutes into the game.  Lewis hit the only shot he took but did not return to the lineup.  William Jewell hit 20-26 free throw opportunities in the second half.  Hildebrandt had 15 points, Tomlin played 35 minutes and had 13 points and Mosby had 12 points before fouling out late in the second half.  Austin Reiger, sophomore forward, had a tremendous effort on the boards, pulling 13 rebounds for Jewell.

“Drury plays very well at home,” Mosby said. “We got out on them early and were able to sustain our lead; we had the momentum throughout the whole game and never let them back in it, which is very tough to do at their place.”

Women lose to Drury

“We lost to the #11 team in the nation, so even though we beat them earlier this year, they’re a really tough team to play especially in their gym,” Smith said.

The Cardinals led by three 90 seconds into the game, but it was the only lead they would have.  Drury shot 60 percent in the first half building a 21-point lead.  The Cardinals shot 44 percent for the game, committing 21 turnovers to the Panthers’ 10.

WJC Basketball squads top Missouri S&T

The men’s team came away with a big 95-91 overtime win this last weekend over GLVC opponent Missouri University of Science and Technology (Mo. S&T).  Tomlin had 34 points off the bench in 33 minutes of play. Mosby had 12 points and 12 rebounds in posting a double-double.  Hildebrandt had 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

“S&T had a good run on us. It’s conference and anything can happen. We took them into overtime and our team gutted it out and came away with the win.  Came home with two good wins [against Drury and S&T],” Mosby said.

The Cardinal women also had a 72-69 win over Missouri S&T. Chris Keys provided 22 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals, and Maddie Nelson had 15 points and 11 rebounds posting a double-double.  Smith had 11 points, five rebounds and five steals.

“It’s always good to pick up a road win,” Smith said.

Finals thoughts

As the season wraps up, both the men’s and women’s teams look to finish strong and gain momentum into tournament play.  Last regular season game is against Rockhurst University at home.  Men’s are looking to come away with a win at their house.

“It’s a conference game and, it’s kind of a rivalry game for us. I expect them to come out and play well against us, they want to beat us and we want to beat them,” Mosby said.

The WJC women’s team are also hoping for a win at home against Rockhurst.

“Rockhurst is a big game for us because when we win we will likely get to host the first round game in the tournament. So we expect to win, but they’re a pretty good team and we’re going to have to play well. I think if any team can get in the conference tournament and make a run, it’s us. So we have high expectations for the tournament and are hoping to get in there and pull off some upsets,” Smith said.

On Feb. 26, both teams were able to come away with wins against Rockhurst University. The women won the game in overtime 85-78. The men were able to pull away from the Hawks in the second half to win 87-64.

The women will host Maryville University on Mar. 1 in the first round of the GLVC tournament. The game will be at 1:00 pm in the Mabee Center.

The men will travel to St. Louis, Mo. to take on the University of Missouri – St. Louis Tritons in the first round of the GLVC tournament on Mar. 1 at 3:00 pm.

*For more WJC Men’s and Women’s Basketball statistics, news, etc. visit the William Jewell Athletics website.

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