PARKVILLE, Mo. - The Park University men's basketball team had 14 players find the scoring column and the Pirates never trailed Tuesday night at the Breckon Sports Center, handling St. Louis College of Pharmacy 91-45 to improve to 13-5 on the year, 10-4 in the American Midwest Conference.
B.J. Watson led the Park effort with 25 points and five assists, while Xavielle Brown had 16 and Ikem Eriobuna added 10. Dalton Rose and James Wanjara shared the lead on the glass with six rebounds each, for the Pirates, who outrebounded the Eutectics 49-29 and forced 25 STLCOP turnovers. John Meinhardt led the short-handed Euts with 15 points, while Colton Frazier scored 10 and missed a double-double witih eight rebounds. STLCOP played five players in the game, falling to 0-13 in conference games and 0-17 overall.
"I thought our intensity lacked early, and we were a little sloppy," said Park coach Jason Kline. "It's hard to get in a rhythm against (STLCOP), because they're trying to slow things down for the entire 40 minutes with only five guys. Our guys off the bench played a lot cleaner when they were able to get in than they did over in St. Louis against (STLCOP), so that was a positive, and we did a good job as we settled in with our defensive pressure."
Park never trailed but its lead was in jeopardy midway through the first half, when Caleb Gulick buried a three from the left corner, in front of the Park student section to make it 24-18 with 10:28 in the half, erasing a double-digit Pirate lead. The double-figure lead returned less than four minutes later, though, when Rose put back a Josh Rutland miss by way of a Kevin Gunter offensive rebound, extending the Park lead to 17 with 6:45 in the first, up 35-18.
The Pirates' biggest lead of the first half came on two Watson free throws 38 seconds before intermission, and Eriobuna scored at the horn to send Park to the break up 51-29. The Pirates had their first 30-point lead when Watson scored in the lane in the second half to make it 62-31, and with 12:21 to play, Rutland made a foul shot that pushed the lead to 40, 73-33.
Park was able to go to its bench late, and Brian Mosby scored to give Park a 79-35 lead with 5:53 left, assisted by Chris Popoca, who later hit a free throw to get Park to 80 points, up 80-37 with 5:22 to go. Jour'dan Smith, Jr., had Park's last basket in the game, a lay-in with 21 seconds left, completing the 91-45 win, a point off the team's best offensive showing of the year, a 92-point effort at home against Lindenwood-Belleville.
The win also kept Park unbeaten at home on the year, with two more home games left this week. Thursday, the Pirates host Williams Baptist at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, No. 23 Freed-Hardeman visits The Breck at 3. Both games will air on the Pirate Sports Network at ParkAthletics.TV.