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Wednesday April 24, 2024
Bay Grinds Out Basketball Win Over Morton, 85-78

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos from the game, Also, click the AUDIO buttons to hear post-game comments from Nic Williams and Coach Matt Johnson, and to hear Ezra Brown player spotlight interview.

CICERO, Ill.---
The Bay College Norse men's basketball team had to grind one out Friday night in Illinois, posting an 85-78 win over the Morton College Panthers to improve to 7-1 on the season. Freshman point guard Nic Wlliams poured in a career-high 27 points as all five starters scored in double figures in a tough road win.

The Norse won despite having three of their usual starters sidelined, and having severe trouble, with two men fouling out and another finishing with four fouls.


“I just didn't ever feel comfortable with where we were,” Bay Coach Matt Johnson said. “We were up big (by as many as 17 points) but it just seemed like it was still within reach. We didn't finish them. We had some very bad plays and mental breakdowns at the end. That stuff cannot happen against good teams. We were very fortunate to sneak out a win against these guys. They're too good to make that many mental errors down the stretch.”


Luckily for the Norse, Williams was spot-on, in all phases of his game. Not only did he score 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor, he was also a calming influence at key moments of the game with how he ran the offense. Williams was 6-of-7 from the free throw line, had four rebounds, three assists, and three steals on defense. He had just one turnover despite playing 39 of the 40 minutes, and when everyone else seemed to draw the ire of the officials, Williams managed to stay above it with only two fouls.


“He's really, really good,” Johnson said. “Nic Williams showed who Nic Williams can be tonight, and it was damn impressive. It was fun to watch. He was incredible in the first half. He sealed the deal. I thought we did a great job of taking the right shots in the first half. In the second half, we “settled” a little bit and their press got us. They rushed everybody but Nic Williams. This is a good win on the road, and Nic played his tail poff tonight.”


With Brian Gillespie, Kaiee Gadson, and Ibrahim Diakite all sidelined, someone had to step up, and several guys did, led by Williams.


“I always try to stay composed and don't let the defenders pressure me,” Williams said. “I'm a point guard, and I'm supposed to run the team. If you're the guy showing other guys on your team that you can be composed, they'll be composed, too. I was just trying to get our big guys involved, because they can get wide open on their defense. I can also create for myself then. This was a really good team (Morton). It feels really good.”


Gensis Kemp scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and played stellar defense. Joe Ofori also scored 15 points in the paint, on 6-of-14 shooting, and he contributed four rebounds and a pair of assists. Baril Mawo and Ryan Sweeney both added ten points.


Bay College (7-1) took an early 15-8 lead and seemed to keep Morton (6-3) at arms-length all night long. A Williams triple made it 32-22, and Ofori scored off a nice dish inside to make it a 36-22 Norse lead late in the first half. It was 47-33 at the half.


But after Bay took that 61-44 lead early in the second half, the Panthers sent on a 9-0 run to close to within 61-53 as E.L. Sieger got going on offense for Morton. The lead fluctuated between seven and twelve points down the stretch, until a Sieger hoop cut the Bay lead to 67-60 with nine minutes left on the clock.


And “and-one” basket by Ofori with 8:12 left restored the lead to 70-60, and later, sophomore Cade LaFavor, playing a a career high in minutes (20), spun inside and banked one home to make it a 79-69 lead late in the game.


“Cade LaFavor is a really good basketball player,” Johnson said. “He's just stuck behind a couple of guys who are really, really good, high-level kids. Any time we can get Cade enough minutes and get him in a flow like this, he's going to be successful. He's as strong as anybody we have, he works harder or as hard as anyone we have. He's fundamentally sound. He did a great job.”


LaFavor ended up with seven points and three rebounds.


Another guy who stepped up was Ezra Brown, who gave Johsnon 26 minutes off the bench. He scored just one point, but had five assists and four rebounds in his biggest performance in a Bay College uniform.


Morton (6-3) was led by Sieger's 20 points and five steals on defense. Rico Yarbough narrowly missed a double-double, with 17 points and nine rebounds.


Bay College will try to get the road trip sweep with a win Saturday at Oakton Community College, before returning home for two games next weekend.

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