Midland University survived some foul trouble in the first half Sunday afternoon before getting on an offensive roll against fourth-ranked Bellevue University.
The Warriors used a 16-0 run early in the second half to take control and defeat the Bruins 88-77 in the Draemel Classic at the Wikert Event Center.
The Warriors only led 42-41 at halftime, but had to cope with foul trouble to starters Chase Parsons and Ryan Williams. Parsons was held scoreless in only five minutes of play while Williams had 14, but only played 10 minutes.
“We didn’t have our best offensive lineup out there for most of the first half,” Midland coach Oliver Drake said. “Ryan and Chase sat out a lot of the time. We told the guys (at halftime) that we did a great jof of weathering the storm. We just needed to get some stops like we did in the first half, but couple that with some baskets. I thought that was a key for us.”
The Bruins went ahead 43-42 on Blake Wilder’s basket following an offensive rebound, but the Warriors answered with the 16-0 run.
Marti Fonolla started the surge with a pair of baskets. Williams scored the next eight, including a pair of 3-point field goals, before Parsons and Reggie Gradwell hit field goals to cap it. Gradwell’s basket put MU up 58-43 with 14:57 left.
“We have some explosiveness with this group and we showed it today,” said Drake of the Warriors, who improve to 7-2. “We can score at a high level.”
Williams, a sophomore from Fremont, finished with a game-high 26 points. He hit 11 of 15 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point land. He added 10 rebounds and three assists.
“I’ve said it before that Ryan will be as good or as great as he wants to be,” Drake said. “He has the ability to be a big-time player. When he wants to, he can play at an All-American level. That is just how good he is.”
The Bruins never recovered from the surge early in the second half. Gradwell, who finished with 13 points, hit a 3 to make it 61-45 with 14:25 left. Bellevue got as close as 68-61 on Nick Hilton’s drive with 7:21 remaining, but the Warriors protected their advantage.
“We kept it at least a three-possession game throughout and that was big,” Drake said. “You know a good team like that will make a run, but our responses were really good.”
TK Dixson finished with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds for MU. Parsons added 13 points and four rebounds.
Bellevue, 4-5, was led by BJ Shelton’s 16 points. Richard Reed added 13 while Jalen Hall and Austin Moore had 12 each. Wilder added 10.
“Bellevue is a Final Four team from last year that has four starters back,” Drake said. “They are as good as advertised, but just aren’t clicking on all cylinders yet. They’ll be in the national tournament again and they were No. 4 in the preseason for a reason.”
On Saturday, the Warriors beat Haskell Indian Nations 95-71 to open the Draemel Classic.
Parsons led MU with 22 points while Williams (18), Gradwell (12) and Nick Wood (11) also hit double figures. Fonolla had eight assists while Dixson had seven.
Midland led by as many as 29 points as all 10 Warriors scored.
The Warriors will face Doane at 8 Wednesday night in Crete in a Great Plains Athletic Conference game.