By Matthew Hunter
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
After starting its inaugural season in the Marian Classic in Indianapolis over the weekend, the Midway University men’s basketball team fell in the program’s first-ever home game to Lindsey Wilson College on Wednesday.
The Eagles (0-3) came into the matchup undersized and attempted to combat that by playing zone and limiting Lindsey Wilson’s touches inside.
Midway’s only lead of the game came just after tipoff at 4-2. Then the Blue Raiders (3-0) used a flurry of transition points off turnovers to fuel a 17-2 run, prompting Midway Coach Joe Krupinski to use his first timeout.
Lindsey Wilson worked the baseline and frequent passes to the middle to open up Midway’s zone defense to draw fouls and find open teammates.
Midway’s backcourt wouldn’t concede the game that easily, though. Freshman guards Bryson Harris and Brandon Johnson led the Eagle attack in the first half, each netting eight points. Midway was efficient on offense in the first 20 minutes, shooting 14 of 26 from the floor, and converting on four of nine from the 3-point line.
Krupinski said his Eagles shot well because “We moved the ball a lot better and we shared the ball better. Some of the guys finished around the rim, which that hadn’t really happened the other day.”
Lindsey Wilson led at halftime 44-34, getting production out of forward Charles Sutton, who led all first half scorers with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including a pair of threes.
The start of the second half showed some fight for Midway as Harris was the catalyst in a 15-3 Eagle run that pulled his team within two, 49-47.
“He’s taken it upon himself to be the heart and soul of the team in trying to get us better every day,” said Krupinski, who coached Harris and other Eagles-to-be at now-closed Saint Catharine College last year. “He’s the one guy we have back who’s playing right now who had a significant role on the team last year.”
Veterans Tyler Smothers, Gerry Milligan and David Jump are the other returning players who Krupinski said he wanted to get into the game plan moving forward.
After almost losing its lead, Lindsey Wilson responded with a 25-8 run to create the largest deficit of the game, 74-55. Turnovers, which have plagued Midway’s offense early in the season, were again an issue for the Eagles.
“Our motion offense involves them reading defenses, and we got to get better at reading those plays so we don’t continue to turn it over,” Krupinski reflected.
Midway continued to chip into the lead as they narrowed the margin to10 with just under four minutes to go. The Blue Raiders were too much on this night as they prevailed 89-74.
Three Eagles scored in double figures. Harris led the way with 19, freshman Brandon Maxwell contributed 14 and Johnson had 13. Lindsey Wilson’s Sutton led all scorers and tallied his first double-double of the season with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
There was no recorded attendance for the evening, but students, faculty and community members alike showed up for the home opener.
“I told the guys, ‘100 years from now when the first team is on the wall, that’s going to be you’,” Krupinski said with a grin. “I hope we can all look back on this and remember that we were a part of something when it gets to be really big.”