The No. 24-ranked Raven Men's Basketball team continued their solid play in the second half of games on Saturday as they picked up their 10th-straight win with a 73-71 win over rival Baker University.
Baker (14-12, 11-11 Heart) got off to a hot start, hitting 7 of their first 10 3-point field goals to build a 27-15 lead with just over seven minutes left in the first half. Benedictine (21-5, 20-2 Heart) battled back to briefly take a one-point lead only to have the Wildcats regain the lead and take a 37-33 advantage into the half.
While the Wildcats used the 3-point shot to jump start their game, those seven 3-pointers were the only of the half made by Baker they finished 7 of 16 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats were also able to limit the Ravens defensively from beyond the arc as Benedictine finished with just one 3-pointer in the first half.
The two teams went back and forth in the start of the second half. Tied at 57-all around the midpoint of the second half both teams went cold from the floor as their was just over a three-minute scoring drought. Thomas O'Connor connected on a pair of free throw to break the drought with just over eight minutes left to play.
Benedictine would never trail again as they pushed ahead by as much as six points three times over the remainder of the game on a basket from Jake Schannuth, a pair of free throws from Andre Yates and two more free throws from O'Connor.
Even with their offense back on track and their solid performance at the free throw line in the second half, the Ravens couldn't put the Wildcats away. With six seconds left in the game, Adam Kutney blocked shot of Baker's Tyrome Parker and was subsequently fouled, he made one of the two from the free throw line to give the Ravens a two-point lead. Baker had the final possession, but couldn't get a shot off as the Ravens were able to pick up the regular-season sweep over the Wildcats by two points.
Yates led the Ravens in scoring with a game-high 24 points, O'Connor finished with 13 while Schannuth added 12. Connor Fleming led the Ravens in rebounds with 12 – all defensive – with 7 points while Yates and AJ Goss both led the team with three assists.
Benedictine finished the game at 46.2 percent from the floor while Baker finished at 43.1 percent. The Ravens converted 14 of 18 free throws in the second half to finish the game at 68.8 percent while the Wildcats hit just 9 of 16 in the second half to finish at 53.1 percent.
Benedictine held a narrow rebounding lead over Baker, 38-34, and held a 12-point advantage in points in the paint as they outscored the Wildcats 34-22.
At 10 games, the Ravens current winning streak matches the best streak under head coach Ryan Moody since he took over the program for the 2011-12 season. They also won 10 straight during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Benedictine hits the road for their next two conference games, first taking on No. 15 Grand View University at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Des Moines. Grand View held off Benedictine in their first meeting in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium, 80-75, back on Jan. 9. The Vikings suffered their first home loss of the season – and over a year – on Saturday to Evangel University.
Thursday's match up should be the latest game of the season between NAIA-ranked Heart opponents. The Vikings have gone 3-2 since the last NAIA Div. I Poll was released on Jan. 31 while the Ravens have gone 5-0 so the two teams may flip in the standings when the next poll is released on Tuesday.
Grand View's loss on Saturday, combined with the Ravens win puts Benedictine in sole possession of second place in the Heart standings with four games left in the regular season.