David Craig was not going to let a lackluster first half get him down.
Instead, McCallie’s standout middle stepped up and performed a vital function on each ends of the courtroom whereas serving to the Blue Tornado draw back within the second half to a 55-46 residence victory over archrival Baylor on Friday evening.
“I used to be very annoyed with the 2 fouls I picked up within the first quarter,” mentioned the 7-foot-1 Craig, who signed with Mercer in November. “What I informed myself going into the half is I’m not going to have one other alternative to do that, so I’m simply going to go away every thing on the market. I put my head down, pinned my ears again and fought by way of adversity like I’ve all my life.”
Craig’s response included three highly effective two-handed dunks to go with a key help to Kollin Claridy for a 3-pointer, and he additionally swatted two pictures off the backboard — all within the second half.
Milos Stijepovic introduced his European aptitude to the courtroom as nicely to steer the Blue Tornado (18-1, 1-0 Division II-AA East Region), whose lockdown defense this season has allowed 50 or extra factors in solely three video games.
McCallie picks up 18th win with stellar second-half showing against Baylor
The 6-foot-6, left-handed taking pictures guard was a pressure off the pick-and-roll driving to the basket, and he hit two first-half 3-pointers to assist McCallie struggle again from an early 9-4 deficit. Stijepovic scored 10 of his 14 factors within the first half to assist McCallie lead 24-22 on the break.
Junior Kollin Claridy made his presence felt within the rivalry victory as he led all with 21 factors and placed on a clinic from the foul line, the place he made 10 of 13 free throws. He additionally threw down a dunk on the left baseline off a pleasant discover from Stijepovic.
Claridy’s 3-pointer from the highest of the arc gave the Blue Tornado an enormous jolt for a 39-30 lead with 1:30 left within the third quarter. He scored 10 straight points, together with a putback basket and 5 consecutive made free throws to construct McCallie’s result in double digits early within the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been understanding with my dad rather a lot and dealing on free throws, ball dealing with and dribbling as nicely,” Claridy mentioned. “I’m targeted on the little issues. We got here out right here targeted on taking part in nice protection first and let the sport come to us offensively.”
Baylor reduce its deficit to 51-46 late, however the guests had one in every of their final shot alternatives swatted away by Craig.
The Red Raiders (13-5, 1-1) have been led by Zane Restelli’s 16 factors because the freshman scored 9 within the first quarter. Eli Sparkman and Nyziah Whaley added 10 factors for Baylor, which was lacking 6-foot-6 ahead Al Peciulis, a senior and a key participant who’s out because of harm.
McCallie coach David Conrady was happy with how his gamers dealt with their first area check.
“Our crew actually trusts one another and is unselfish,” Conrady mentioned. “Tonight Kollin stepped up and made some massive pictures. Milos actually put the ball on the ground and completed, and his scoring means helped convey consideration to him to open up David. At halftime we wanted David to be extra lively, and he did precisely that.”
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.