NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Manchester University head coach Gerad Good had been looking for a key intangible to be a part of the Spartans' 2015-16 season stretch drive.
He got that, and more, Wednesday, Feb. 10, in a wild and woolly 90-86 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win over Anderson University at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena. Playing in front of a large and loud home crowd cheering the Black and Gold at every turn, the home team answered a second half rally by the visiting Ravens to earn a split in the season series with their conference rivals.
"Our intensity is coming back, and it's been needed," he said. "We'd had some slippage in that area, but that tends to happen this time of year. Tonight, though, it was good to see several guys step up in a positive way.
"This victory is just another step for us towards getting more confidence," he added. "We'll need that, too, as there are more big games ahead."
Several individual stars shone brightly for the Spartans (11-11 overall, 8-7 HCAC). Senior guard Brady Dolezal (Tipton, Ind.) was among them, scoring 23 points on 10-of-15 field goal shooting to go with seven rebounds, a blocked shot, two assists and a steal in 31 minutes of action off the bench. Freshman guard Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) was just as strong, tallying 21 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds, and his underclassman teammate, sophomore forward/center Enis Becirevic (Fort Wayne, Ind.) chipped in 14 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot, too. Even with those three outputs, freshman forward/center Evan Romie (Anna, Ohio) showed his some clutch wares as well.
Romie, who finished with 10 points, four rebounds and an assist, came up big in the final 5:12. The freshman hit a fade away jump shot with the shot clock running down to open the advantage to 88-83 and then, after AU's Brett Anderson gunned in one of his four treys to close the margin to two with 1:32 remaining, Romie hit another jumper on the right baseline with only 21 seconds remaining to give the home side an insurmountable two-possession lead. Dolezal was also involved heavily down the stretch, as he scored four points in the same span and grabbed a huge defensive rebound after a Ravens' three-point miss with only 49 seconds left to set up MU's final possession.
The victory kept the Black and Gold right on the edge of the league's top six, trailing a three-way tie for fourth between Transylvania University, Hanover and AU by only a game with three to play. Manchester University resumes its final regular season home set Saturday, Feb. 13, as Rose-Hulman comes to town for a 5 p.m. Senior Day 2016 tipoff with the three-member Class of 2016 being honored postgame.
NOTES: Dolezal, who's ended at 20-points-or-more in four of his last five appearances, finds himself on the brink of school history going into the weekend. He's only four points shy of becoming the 28th member of the program's 1,000-point club and the first to do so since Jamaal Wade did so from 2004-08 … Johnson has a modest three-game run of double-figure scoring. He's also dished out five-or-more assists six times in his last eight outings and picked off three steals-or-more three times in the same span … Becirevic continued strong field goal shooting in the win, registering his 18th contest of 50-percent-or-higher accuracy. His rebounding season average is on the rise, too, due to averaging six boards a game that's helped up his season mark three-tenths (3.5-3.8) … Romie registered his first collegiate double-digit scoring total … MU's win snapped a five-game Anderson University win streak in the series.