Bobcat men play today (Wednesday) at Benedictine

 A 19-point halftime lead proved to be enough for the home team Monday night in Olathe, Kansas.
 
The MidAmerica Nazarene (MNU) Pioneers were able to hold off a furious second-half rally by Peru State in route to a 74-68 victory.
 
While winning their third straight, the Pioneers improved to 14-12 overall and are now 9-12 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart). The 14th-ranked Bobcats fell to 18-8 on the season and dropped to 13-7 in conference play.
 
Peru State is now third in the conference standings – one game behind William Penn (Iowa) and two and one-half games ahead Grand View (Iowa). The Bobcats have four games remaining in the regular season.
 
First Half Action
 
The Pioneers scored the first four points of the contest before Brandon Jones (Houston) hit a pair of free throws to put the score at 4-2 at the 18:47 mark. After MNU hit a trey, Lyle Hexom (Omaha) grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back it to make it 7-4.
 
MidAmerica Nazarene would have its first double-digit lead at 18-10 with 11:28 left in the first 20 minutes. The Pioneers later had their first 19-point lead at 32-13 before Jones completed an old-fashioned three-point play.
 
Jamil Maddred (Camden, N.J.) hit a pair of free throws and Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) hit a trey to pull the Bobcats within 11 at 32-21 with just under three minutes left in the half.
 
MNU would go on an 8-0 run to end the first half leading 40-21.
 
The Bobcats had only shot 17.9% in the first half from the floor while the Pioneers made 50% of their shots.
 
Second Half Action
 
The Pioneers hit a trey to start the second half to have their only 20-point-plus lead.
 
KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) followed with a trey of his own of an assist from Jones who then put in a bucket to cut the deficit to 17. Maddred would add a bucket on an assist from Jones to pull the 'Cats within 15 at 43-28 with 15:52 remaining.
 
MNU would extend their lead to a game-high 24 at 54-30 with 13:37 on the clock. Peru State would go on a 10-0 run that started with a Hexom bucket and ended with a Hexom bucket to make it 54-40 with just over ten minutes left in the contest.
 
Later, the Pioneers would lead by as many as 17 at 60-43 with 6:37 left in the game. A trey by Isaac Simpson (Papillion) off an assist from Maddred was followed by a pair of free throws by Simpson to get the 'Cats within 12.
 
After a three-pointer by MNU, Jones hit a bucket in the paint and then Maddred hit a trey to get the Bobcats back with ten. After the Pioneers hit a bucket, a three-pointer by Wilson pulled the Bobcats to within single digits at 65-56.
 
Another trey by Simpson made the score 65-59 with 1:59 on the clock. The closest the Bobcats would get would come after a Hexom three-pointer to make it 71-68 with 23 seconds left.
 
Team Statistics
 
The Pioneers finished the night making 27 of 59 field goals for 45.8% included making 8 of 24 from long range for 33.3%. At the charity stripe, MNU connected on 12 of 16 free throws for 75%. Peru State made just 23 of 69 field goal tries for 33.3% and actually shot better from behind the arc hitting 11 of 29 for 37.9%. The Bobcats were dismal at the free throw line making just 11 of 23 for 47.8%.
 
Peru State did have a rebounding edge grabbing 46 boards compared to 39 for the Pioneers. MNU doubled up the 'Cats on assists as they finished with 22. Both teams finished with 11 turnovers.
 
MNU blocked 15 shots compared to five for the 'Cats. Both teams had six steals.
 
Peru Player Statistics
 
Three Bobcats finished in double digits in scoring. Hexom led the way with 19 points while Simpson had 14 points. Maddred contributed 11 while Wilson and Jones each finished with nine.
Jones had a game-high 14 rebounds while Hexom had another double-double as he grabbed 12 boards. Maddred added eight rebounds.
 
Maddred, Wilson, and Jones each dished out four assists. Hexom blocked three shots while Maddred and Michael Wardy (Roca) each had one block. Jones led the team with a game-high three steals while Maddred added two.
 
Upcoming Contests
 
Peru State has four regular season games left with the first three on the road. On Wednesday, the 'Cats will face the hottest team in the country when they travel to Atchison, Kansas, to take on the second-ranked Benedictine Ravens. Benedictine is 24-2 on the season and 20-0 in conference play and have won 23 games in a row. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
 
On Saturday, the Bobcats have a long road trip to Dubuque, Iowa, to face Clarke in a 2 p.m. fray. The Crusaders are 11-15 on the season and are among those mired in the middle of the conference with nine wins against 11 losses.
 
The Bobcats will then face Missouri Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 27, before finishing at home on March 2 against Baker (Kan.).