Ursinus men’s basketball went into its game against Gettysburg on Thursday, February 6th, with a playoff mentality. After losing to Gettysburg in early January, the Bears were ready to take down the Bullets. This was an essential conference game for the Bears because it would move the team into the fifth playoff spot. And in the end, the team prevailed.
Freshman guard Jimmy Kpadeh was hungry to keep playoff hopes alive. Preparation was key, he said. “The coaches prepared a really good scout and we did a really good job executing the scout. We know this is a critical part of our season, it is a time where we either win or go home.”
High scorers Ryan Hughes and George Gordon both put up 20 points in the win, with senior captain Ryan McTamney posting 19 points and 8 rebounds. Jimmy Kpadeh tallied 15 points as well, including drilling back-to-back 3-pointers.
Gordon sunk four baskets within the first five minutes, as Ursinus overcame an early 7-4 deficit with a run of six straight Gordon points. Midway through the first half, McTamney made multiple 3-pointers to help Ursinus get ahead 23-18. In the first 20 minutes of the game, both teams shot over 55% from the field, and at the end of the half Gettysburg led Ursinus 38-33.
Hughes gave us a little insight into Coach Small’s advice for the second half. “The high percentage of shots made by Getty from the field in the first half could not repeat in the second half, if offense doesn’t go our way, we have to keep strong defense, play tougher than Getty,” Hughes recalled the coach saying.
Four minutes into the second half the score was tied up at 44-44. In the last six minutes, the game turned intense. Both teams exchanged three pointers, one after another. With four minutes to go, George Gordon had an insane put-back dunk, bringing the crowd to its feet. Through twelve ties and nine lead changes, the Bears kept coming.
Hughes took a strong drive down the lane to find McTamney for a reverse layup, giving the Bears 69-65 lead with 4:44 remaining. With 44.3 seconds left the Bears were up 77-72. McTamney and Hughes both went to the foul line to sink two free throws. The Bears’ defense really picked up in the last moments as well, to clinch the win 84-79.
Kpadeh was excited to be back in playoff contention. He believed the Bears’ defense was a key aspect of their efforts during Thursday night’s game. “Defense was really good tonight, getting stops and rebounds are important, especially making sure the Gettysburg high scorers did not score,” he said.
Another important conference game is coming up for the Bears on Saturday, February 8. If they can pull off a win against 2-11 Dickinson, the Bears will be able to boost their record to .500, potentially moving them up the standings. Saturday’s game is as important, if not more, than Thursday night’s.