The Ripon College Red Hawk men’s basketball team nearly erased a 28-point, second-half deficit last week Saturday, but was unable to complete the comeback as it fell to the Monmouth Fighting Scots 82-73 at home on Alumni Day.
Ripon, which was playing the second game of a back-to-back, closed to within 77-73 on a 3-pointer by Brandon native Jaylen Mahone with a little more than a minute left. It had a chance to make it a one-possession game after a block and steal by Mahone, but turned the ball over itself and the Fighting Scots scored the final five points to hold on.
The Red Hawks had a chance to strengthen their position in the race for a Midwest Conference Tournament spot with a win. Despite that, they still were in control of their own destiny entering Tuesday’s road game against Lake Forest as a win over the Foresters would clinch a spot in the four-team tournament.
A loss to Lake Forest would mean that Ripon needs to defeat Knox Saturday at home in its regular-season finale and have Grinnell defeat Lake Forest at home for it to earn the fourth and final tournament position. Ripon’s game against Knox will tip off at 3 p.m., while Lake Forest’s road contest against Grinnell is slated to begin at 5 p.m.
“With our alums in the house, we talked a lot about having some real pride and there wasn’t much to be proud of as we kept building ourselves a pretty good deficit,” Ripon head coach Ryan Kane said. “... And ultimately, [we] found a way to scratch and claw. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort that they showed given we played a team who was coming off a full rest and we had played the night before. That’s a competitive disadvantage for sure. But yet, we weren’t going to feel sorry for ourselves. We were going to have to try to find a way and they played really well.”
The Red Hawks’ only lead of the game came around a minute in at 2-0 after a pair of David De Valk free throws. Monmouth answered with the next six points and built a 22-9 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
Ripon closed to within 26-21 with five minutes left until halftime, but the Fighting Scots went on a 30-7 run to close the first half and begin the second to double up Ripon 56-28 with around 15 minutes to play in the game.
A lot of Monmouth’s success had to do with its shooting as it shot 53% (18 of 34) from the field in the first half and carried that over into the first few minutes of the second half.
The Fighting Scots especially were hot behind the 3-point line in the opening 20 minutes as they converted 62% (8 of 13) of their opportunities.
“They are hot and cold,” Kane said of the Fighting Scots. “They’ve had games where they were 1 for 9 and 1 for 11 from 3-[point range]. And they’ve had games, especially against us [where they can’t miss]. They shot it well down at their place when we played them there and they made a couple early on. That momentum has a tendency to build.”
The Red Hawks also struggled to take care of the basketball in the first half as they committed 12 turnovers, which is as many, if not more, than they had in the entirety of 14 of their 23 games this season. Monmouth scored 22 points off those dozen turnovers en route to taking a 47-25 advantage into halftime.
Ripon did a little better job of not turning the ball over in the second half, but still finished with 20 turnovers, which is tied for its second-most in a game this season. It committed 23 miscues in an 87-85 overtime loss to Austin College.
“The turnovers were really the tale for me,” Kane said. “We were down 22 at half and they had 22 points off turnovers in the first half, so we really hurt ourselves with that. That’s tough to overcome. A lot of those were live-ball turnovers to where they’re taking them and converting them immediately into points as opposed to some dead-ball turnovers.
“We haven’t been taking care of the ball. We switched some things up offensively and we don’t have probably the continuity that we maybe would have had had we been working on that more throughout the whole year.”
When the Red Hawks didn’t turn the ball over, they shot the ball pretty well. They finished the game shooting 46% (23 of 50) from the field, which included 55% (17 of 31) from inside the 3-point arc. Ripon shot 32% (6 of 19) from outside the arc.
During Ripon’s 45-21 run to climb back into the game, it did a better job of getting stops, forcing some turnovers and hitting shots. Mahone scored 18 of his team-high 22 points during that stretch, while Ryan Steffes recorded 12 of his 18 points.
Clark Cunningham also gave the Red Hawks a boost off the bench to begin the run, scoring four points. Dominic Galati, Justin Bartol, De Valk and Cade Tackmier also made baskets during that stretch, while Drew Jorgensen hit two free throws.
Red Hawks knock off Cornell
Ripon gave itself some wiggle room in its pursuit for a Midwest Conference Tournament berth with a 74-64 win over the Cornell Rams last week Friday at home.
The Red Hawks never trailed against Cornell, which entered the game in second place in the conference and riding an eight-game winning streak. It had wins over Ripon, Monmouth and Illinois College during that stretch.
“I was really pleased with our performance, especially on the offensive end of the floor. It was good to see us get some shots to go in. Jaylen played great, gave I think everybody a little bit of confidence. … And we really did a good job, I thought, defensively on them. We had a different game plan than we did when we went down there and … and I think it was effective. And then seeing the ball go in can add to that confidence on the defensive end of the floor.”
Ripon wasted no time taking charge against the Rams as it jumped out to an 11-2 lead a little more than three minutes into the game. Mahone accounted for nine of those 11 points for the Red Hawks, which included a 3-pointer.
Cornell closed to within three points on a couple of occasions in the first half after that, including at 25-22 with around five minutes left. The Red Hawks always had an answer, however, which included an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the half at 36-24 with less than three minutes to play. Berlin native Justin Bartol came off the bench due to foul trouble and scored the first five points off that stretch, while Jorgensen and Mahone knocked down 3-pointers to finish it off.
“Justin has gone in and out of the rotation,” Kane said. “He’s had a couple good moments in practice. When we have foul trouble, we’re fortunate that we have some guys that I feel very comfortable going to. It’s just that they don’t get the normal minutes that they probably feel comfortable with. [I’m] just really pleased for him to come in and provide a spark for us.”
Ripon entered halftime leading 38-31 and stretched the advantage to as many as 19 points around the midway point of the second half. The Rams chipped away a bit after that, but never were able to get any closer than 10 points.
Mahone led the Red Hawks in scoring with 24 points on an efficient 10-of-14 shooting from the field, while Tackmier recorded a career-high 18 points and Jorgensen chipped in with 12. Luke Meinholz added eight points in the victory.
Ripon finished the game shooting 55% (28 of 51) from the field, which included 47% (8 of 17) behind the 3-point line.
The Rams also shot the ball pretty well as they converted 52% (25 of 48) of their opportunities, but were just 20% (3 of 15) on long-range shots.
Welcome to the discussion.
Thank you for taking part in our commenting section. We want this platform to be a safe and inclusive community where you can freely share ideas and opinions. Comments that are racist, hateful, sexist or attack others won’t be allowed. Just keep it clean. Do these things or you could be banned:
• Don’t name-call and attack other commenters. If you’d be in hot water for saying it in public, then don’t say it here.
• Don’t spam us.
• Don’t attack our journalists.
Let’s make this a platform that is educational, enjoyable and insightful.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.