Like their Bobcat women counterparts, the Peru State men's basketball team had to come from behind Saturday afternoon to snap a losing streak.
The Bobcats were down by 16 at the 15:54 mark in the second half and scored 18 straight points to give them a lead they had not had since early in the first half. Later, the 'Cats would break a 59-59 tie and went on to an 83-74 win over the visiting Mount Mercy (Iowa) Mustangs.
Peru State improved to 18-7 overall and are now 13-6 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart). Mount Mercy dropped to 14-13 on the season and 9-12 in the Heart.
First Half Action
A basket by KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) off a turnover and then one by Lyle Hexom (Omaha) in the paint game the 'Cats an early 4-0 lead. Mount Mercy would eventually tie the game at 6-6 and would go ahead with a trey. Wilson would dish Hexom the ball for a trey to tie it at 9-9 at the 14:31 mark.
Once again the Mustangs would take a five-point lead only to see Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) hit a trey and Hexom hit a jumper to tie the score at 14-14.
Mount Mercy would then go out to a 29-18 lead with 6:19 left in the first 20 minutes. The Mustangs would stretch their lead to 15 at 39-24 with 2:31 remaining in the half.
Jones made one free throw and Hexom hit a bucket to cut it to 12 before Mount Mercy responded with a bucket to put the lead back to 41-27.
Another bucket by Jones in the paint was followed by a basket by Michael Wardy (Roca) off an assist from Wilson to cut the deficit to ten at halftime.
Second Half Action
With one exception when the Bobcats pulled the game back to within nine, the Mustangs led by double digits for the first four-plus minutes. At the 15:34 mark, Mount Mercy led 54-38 as they had their largest lead of the contest.
It was at that point that the 'Cats would get hot and the Mustangs could not hit a bucket and had many turnovers. Wilson would start the 18-0 run with a trey on an assist from Jones. Jamil Maddred (Camden, N.J.) followed with a trey on an assist from Hexom to pull the 'Cats within ten at 54-44.
Maddred followed with a bucket to cut the lead to single digits and then Hexom made it a five-point contest with a three-pointer off an assist from Wilson. Jones would follow with a basket which forced Mount Mercy to call a timeout while still leading 54-51.
Hexom and Jones would each get a bucket coming off an assist from each other and Peru State took its first lead of the game since the early minutes.
Later, Mount Mercy would tie the game at 59-59 at the 7:00 minute mark. A Wilson trey off an assist from Jones gave Peru State the lead for good.
Peru State would extend its lead to eight at 73-65 after Hexom scored off a turnover. Later, with 33 seconds left, the 'Cats led 81-71 after Maddred hit a pair of free throws. After a trey by the Mustangs, Wilson ended the scoring with a pair of free throws.
The Bobcats were hot from the floor making 29 of 57 field goals for 50.9% which included making 9 of 28 from behind the arc for 32.1%. At the charity stripe, the 'Cats hit 16 of 20 for 80%. Mount Mercy also shot the ball well as they connected on 29 of 63 field goal tries for 46% including hitting 12 of 28 from three-point range for 42.9%. The Mustangs connected on four of eight free throws for 50%.
Peru State grabbed 29 rebounds compared to 21 for the Mustangs. Mount Mercy was credited for 25 assists while the 'Cats finished with 13. The Bobcats committed 19 turnovers with the Mustangs finishing with 16.
The Bobcats blocked five shots and grabbed seven steals. Mount Mercy nabbed nine steals.
Peru Player Statistics
Maddred and Hexom both scored 22 points to lead the team. Jones added 17 points while Wilson finished with 12.
Hexom finished with a double-double as he grabbed a game-high 13 boards. Jones just missed a double-double as he added eight rebounds.
Wilson, Hexom, and Jones each dished out four assists. Hexom blocked three shots to add to his career-mark while Jones blocked two. Jones and Hexom each grabbed two steals.
Peru State has a tough road ahead of them literally. The Bobcats play the next four games on the road before finishing with one home game to end the regular season.
Monday night, Feb. 18, the 'Cats will play their twice-postponed game with MidAmerica Nazarene in Olathe, Kan., at 7:30 p.m. The Pioneers have won two in a row and are now 13-12 on the season and are 8-12 in the conference. MidAmerica Nazarene, like many in the conference, are fighting for post-season play during their last four games.
On Wednesday night, the Bobcats will be in Atchison, Kan., to take on the NAIA DI second-ranked Benedictine Ravens. Benedictine is a perfect 20-0 in the conference and are 24-2 overall. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
A long road trip faces Peru State on Saturday when they travel to Dubuque, Iowa, to challenge the Clarke Crusaders at 2 p.m. The Crusaders are mired in the middle of the Heart with a 9-11 mark and are 11-15 on the season.