PARKVILLE, Mo. — Six Park University men's basketball seniors closed the regular-season chapter of their college basketball careers in a big way for No. 23 Park UniversitySaturday at the Breckon Sports Center in Parkville, wrapping up the eighth 20-win season in program history with a 98-88 victory over Hannibal-LaGrange, moving in to the AMC tournament at 20-6 while closing the regular season at 18-6 in the league.
Xavielle Brown led all scorers with 28 points, one of three seniors in double-digits, a group that also included BJ Watson, who scored 17 points and added four assists. Ikem Eriobuna's 10 points kame with a pair of blocked shots, but it was Brown who made his presence felt most in the lane with four blocks and four rebounds. Levi Mitchell led Park on the glass, missing a double-double with nine boards and 14 points.
"Senior day is always very emotional, so our guys deserve some credit. They were able to put those emotions in check and get up early in the game," said Park coach Jason Kline. "We needed to finish the regular season strong, knowing that we're home next Thursday against a very good team, no matter who it is coming in to the building."
De'Shawn Terrell led HLGU (8-18, 5-17) with 22 points, while D'Avonte Garland had the game's only double-double – 10 points and 10 rebounds – despite being ejected from his final collegiate game with 11:27 to play.
The Pirates needed exactly one minute to take the lead for good, in the game, when Brown buried a three at the 19:00 mark in the first half, a lead that eventually reached nine points, 18-9, when Watson tripled with 14:28 left in the first.
Hannibal-LaGrange covered the next three minutes by outscoring the Pirates 11-4, getting within two when Tyler Hill knocked down a 3-pointer, but Park scored the next six points and led 28-20, with 8:39 in the half, when Watson went to the basket for two points to extend the lead to eight.
Park never took a double-digit lead in the first half, grinding their way to a seven-point advantage at intermission, but Park did turn its 52-45 halftime advantage in to a 62-50 lead on another 3-pointer for Brown with 16:29 left in the game.
Greg Nicoll had HLGU back within seven with 12:43 to play, but Nicoll fouled out of his final collegiate game, making his final exit from the floor with 2:52 to go.
"I thought it was very neat to see Greg Nicoll, a player who I've respected in this conference, get the kind of ovation he got coming out of the game," Kline said. "I've got a lot of respect for what Jason Durst does at Hannibal, and they're going to be a threat again next year. They played hard today and didn't make any thing easy on us."
Park led by double figures for the final 12:05 of the game, and with 1:52 left, senior Chris Popoca gave Park its biggest lead of the game, tripling with a bank shot from in front of the Park bench to make it 96-77.
The Pirates are at home Thursday, in the American Midwest Conference tournament, hosting Lyon College after the Scots earned the No. 7 seed despite falling to Harris-Stowe Saturday, 60-58, after leading for much of the game. Lyon finished with an 11-11 record in the AMC, a game ahead of Missouri Baptist, and the Scots are 16-14 coming in to Parkville for next week's quarterfinal game, Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Pirate Sports Network will air Thursday's game at www.parkathletics.tv, a simulcast of the AMC Digital Network's broadcast of the quarterfinal round from The Breck. For ticket information, visit www.parkathletics.com next week.