Just two games into its season, the UW-Parkside men’s basketball team is already facing a gut check.
Things did not go well, to say the least, for the Rangers on Friday and Saturday at the Conference Crossover in Springfield, Ill., against Great Lakes Valley Conference teams Lindenwood (Mo.) and Illinois Springfield.
Parkside dropped a 75-74 decision in the final seconds to Lindenwood on Friday night then were outscored 46-38 in the second half Saturday night in a 78-70 loss to Illinois Springfield.
After losing such a tough game to open the season Friday, Saturday’s loss was especially frustrating for the Rangers.
Parkside had just 12 assists to 12 turnovers, was out-rebounded 40-28 and allowed the Prairie Stars to make 15 3-pointers.
Just redshirt junior transfer point guard Tray Croft (18 points) and redshirt sophomore guard/forward Brandon Hau (16) scored in double figures among Parkside starters Saturday. Redshirt sophomore guard/forward Cameron Myre scored 10 points off the bench.
Needless to say, the Rangers must find answers in practice this week before they play in the first-ever Parkside Invitational this weekend, beginning 7 p.m. Friday against Hillsdale (Mich.).
“We’re just not a very good team right now,” Parkside coach Luke Reigel said. “We have almost no one that can be a positive on both ends of the floor. Offensively, this is one of the most selfish teams I’ve coached, and defensively we couldn’t be much softer.
“We have a lot of work to do this week. I have to do my job better and develop five guys that can play Parkside basketball.”
Springfield’s Jesus Castillo torched Parkside from the 3-point line Saturday, going 8-of-12 from beyond the arc for all 24 of his points.
The game was tied 32-32 at halftime, but the Prairie Stars opened up a 61-52 lead with 8 minutes, 31 seconds left on a 3 by Castillo and Daniel Soetan’s bucket in the paint.
Parkside just couldn’t follow a basket with a stop after that, though the Rangers did draw within 74-70 with 2:24 remaining on an inside basket by junior forward Ramar Evans.
Soetan missed a 3 on Springfield’s next possession, but Hau turned the ball over, the Prairie Stars grabbed an offensive board after a miss and Soetan threw down a dunk with 1:18 left for a 76-70 lead.
Lindenwood (Mo.) 75, UW-Parkside 74
Sometimes you execute the way you intend, but the results still don’t come out in your favor.
Such was the case in the final seconds of the Rangers’ season-opening loss Friday night.
The Rangers made a good defensive stand and ran an offensive set the way they wanted, but it was the Lions who emerged with the victory in a back-and-forth affair.
In his first game with the program, Croft led Parkside with 22 points, the final two on a jumper with 18 seconds remaining to give the Rangers a 74-73 lead.
Lindenwood called a 30-second timeout and got a shot for TJ Crockett, who went 13-of-25 from the field and led all scorers with 34 points.
Crockett’s 3-point attempt didn’t even draw iron, but the ball went right to Anthony Christian, who put it in with 5 seconds left for a 75-74 lead.
The Rangers then called timeout and had to go the length of the floor for the win. Croft got a look with a tough layup, but it didn’t go at the buzzer.
Reigel was pleased with both his team’s final offensive and defensive possessions, but with a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule, he said the team has to execute better overall.
“We just made too many mistakes down the stretch to deserve to win tonight,” Reigel said. “We are going to play a lot of close games this year, and we will need to execute at a high level if we are going to be successful.”
Croft notched a double-double with 10 rebounds to go with four assists and a steal.
Redshirt sophomore guard Brandon Trimble scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and added six boards, redshirt sophomore center Joey St. Pierre totaled 14 points, five rebounds and six blocks, and Hau added 10 points and six boards.
But the Rangers went just 2-of-11 from 3-point range and had seven assists to 10 turnovers.
Parkside trailed 42-36 at halftime but caught up and took a three-point lead at 56-53 on Evans’ jumper The Rangers ripped off a 10-0 run to go ahead 71-68 with 3:55 left.
Crockett’s 3 with 1:21 remaining put the Lions back ahead, 73-72, before the teams traded leads in the final seconds.